Skip to main content

Full text of "Terre Napole?n; a History of French Explorations and Projects in Australia"

See other formats

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Terre Napoleon, by Ernest Scott
#2 in our series by Ernest Scott

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing
this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.

This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project
Gutenberg file.  Please do not remove it.  Do not change or edit the
header without written permission.

Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the
eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file.  Included is
important information about your specific rights and restrictions in
how the file may be used.  You can also find out about how to make a
donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.

**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**

**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**

*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****

Title: Terre Napoleon
       A history of French explorations and projects in Australia

Author: Ernest Scott

Release Date: February, 2005 [EBook #7450]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on May 2, 2003]

Edition: 10

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Sue Asscher and Col Choat










The main object of this book is to exhibit the facts relative to the
expedition despatched to Australia by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1800 to 1804,
and to consider certain opinions which have been for many years current
regarding its purpose.

Until about five years ago the writer accepted without doubt the
conclusions presented by leading authorities. One has to do that in
regard to the vast mass of historical material, because, obviously,
however much disposed one may be to form one's opinions on tested facts
apart from the writings of historians, several lifetimes would not be
sufficient for a man to inquire for himself as to the truth of a bare
fraction of the conclusions with which research is concerned.

But it so happened that the writer was interested, for other reasons than
those disclosed in the following pages, in ascertaining exactly what was
done by the expedition commanded by Captain Nicolas Baudin on the coasts
which were labelled Terre Napoleon. On scrutinising the facts somewhat
narrowly, he was surprised to find that opinions accepted with
unquestioning faith began to crumble away for lack of evidence to support

So much is stated by way of showing that the book has not been written to
prove a conclusion formulated a priori, but with a sincere desire that
the truth about the matter should be known. We read much in modern books
devoted to the era of the Corsican about "the Napoleonic legend." There
seems to be, just here, a little sporadic Napoleonic legend, to which
vitality has been given from quarters whence have come some heavy blows
at the larger one.

The plan adopted has been, after a preliminary sketch of the colonial
situation of Great Britain and France in the period under review, to
bring upon the scene--the Terre Napoleon coasts--the discovery ship
Investigator, despatched by the British Government at about the same time
as Napoleon's vessels were engaged upon their task, and to describe the
meeting of the two captains, Flinders and Baudin, in Encounter Bay. Next,
the coasts denominated Terre Napoleon are traversed, and an estimate is
made of the original work done by Baudin, and of the serious omissions
for which he was to blame. A second part of the subject is then entered
upon. The origin of the expedition is traced, and the ships are carefully
followed throughout their voyage, with a view to elicit whether there
was, as alleged, a political purpose apart from the scientific work for
which the enterprise was undertaken at the instance of the Institute of

The two main points which the book handles are: (1) whether Napoleon's
object was to acquire territory in Australia and to found "a second
fatherland" for the French there; and (2) whether it is true, as so often
asserted, that the French plagiarised Flinders' charts for the purpose of
constructing their own. On both these points conclusions are reached
which are at variance with those commonly presented; but the evidence is
placed before the reader with sufficient amplitude to enable him to
arrive at a fair opinion on the facts, which, the author believes, are
faithfully stated.

A third point of some importance, and which is believed to be quite new,
relates to the representation of Port Phillip on the Terre Napoleon maps.
It is a curious fact that, much as has been written on the early history
of Australia, no writer, so far as the author is aware, has observed the
marked conflict of evidence between Captain Baudin and his own officers
as to that port having been seen by their discovery ships, and as to how
the representation of it on the French maps got there. Inasmuch as Port
Phillip is the most important harbour in the territory which was called
Terre Napoleon, the matter is peculiarly interesting. Yet, although the
author has consulted more than a score of volumes in which the expedition
is mentioned, or its work dealt with at some length, not one of the
writers has pointed out this sharp contradiction in testimony, still less
attempted to account for it. It is to be feared that in the writing of
Australian, as of much other history, there has been on the part of
authors a considerable amount of "taking in each other's washing."

The table of comparative chronology is designed to enable the reader to
see at a glance the dates of the occurrences described in the book, side
by side with those of important events in the world at large. It is
always an advantage, when studying a particular piece of history, to have
in mind other happenings of real consequence pertaining to the period
under review. Such a table should remind us of what Freeman spoke of as
the "unity and indivisibility of history," if it does no more.



A continent with a record of unruffled peace.
Causes of this variation from the usual course of history.
English and French colonisation during the Napoleonic wars.
The height of the Napoleonic empire and the entire loss of the French
The British colonial situation during the same period.
The colony at Port Jackson in 1800.
Its defencelessness.
The French squadron in the Indian Ocean.
Rear-Admiral Linois.
The audacious exploit of Commodore Dance, and Napoleon's direction to
"take Port Jackson" in 1810.


The Investigator at Kangaroo Island.
Thoroughness of Flinders' work.
His aims and methods.
His explorations; the theory of a Strait through Australia.
Completion of the map of the continents.
A direct succession of great navigators: Cook, Bligh, Flinders, and
What Flinders learnt in the school of Cook: comparison between the
healthy condition of his crew and the scurvy-stricken company on the
French vessels.


Meeting of the Investigator and Le Geographe in Encounter Bay.
Flinders cautious.
Interview of the two captains.
Peron's evidence.
The chart of Bass Strait.
Second interview: Baudin inquisitive.
Baudin's account of his explorations.


Conflict of evidence between Baudin, Peron, and Freycinet as to whether
the French ships had sighted Port Phillip.
Baudin's statement corroborated by documents.
Examination of Freycinet's statement.
The impossibility of doing what Peron and Freycinet asserted was done.


Imprisonment of Flinders in Mauritius.
The French atlas of 1807.
The French charts and the names upon them.
Hurried publication.
The allegation that Peron acted under pressure.
Freycinet's explanations.
His failure to meet the gravest charge.
Extent of the actual discoveries of Baudin, and nature of the country
The French names in current use on the so-called Terre Napoleon coasts.
Difficulty of identifying features to which Baudin applied names.
Freycinet's perplexities.
The new atlas of 1817.


Assertions commonly made as to French plagiarism of Flinders' charts.
Lack of evidence to support the charges.
General Decaen and his career.
The facts as to Flinders' charts.
The sealed trunks.
The third log-book and its contents; detention of it by Decaen, and the
reasons for his conduct.
Restoration of Flinders' papers, except the log-book and despatches.
Do Freycinet's charts show evidence of the use of Flinders' material?
How did the French obtain their chart of Port Phillip?
Peron's report to Decaen as to British intentions in the Pacific and
Indian Oceans, and the effect on his mind.
Liberation of Flinders.
Capture of Mauritius by the British.
English naval officers and the governor.
Later career of Decaen.


Did Bonaparte desire to establish French colonial dominions in Australia?
The case stated.


Baudin's one of a series of French expeditions.
The building up of the map of Australia.
Early map-makers.
Terra Australis.
Dutch navigators.
Emmerie Mollineux's map.
Tasman and Dampier.
The Petites Lettres of Maupertuis.
De Brosses and his Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes.
French voyages that originated from it.
Bougainville; Marion-Dufresne; La Perouse; Bruni Dentrecasteaux.
Voyages subsequent to Baudin's.
The object of the voyages scientific and exploratory.
The Institute of France and its proposition.
Received by Bonaparte with interest.
Bonaparte's interest in geography and travel.
His authorisation of the expedition.
The Committee of the Institute and their instructions.
Fitting out of the expedition.
Le Geographe and Le Naturaliste.
The staff.
Francois Peron.
Captain Nicolas Baudin.


The passports from the English Government.
Sailing of the expedition.
French interest in it.
The case of Ah Sam.
Baudin's obstinacy.
Short supplies.
The French ships on the Western Australian coast.
The Ile Lucas and its name.
Refreshment at Timor.
The English frigate Virginia.
Baudin sails south.
Shortage of water.
The French in Tasmania.
Peron among the aboriginals.
The savage and the boat.
Among native women.
A question of colour.
Separation of the ships by storm.
Baudin sails through Bass Strait, and meets Flinders.
Great storms and intense suffering.
Le Geographe at Port Jackson.


Le Naturaliste at Sydney.
Boullanger's boat party.
Curious conduct of Baudin.
Le Naturaliste sails for Mauritius, but returns to Port Jackson.
Re-union of Baudin's ships.
Hospitality of Governor King.
Peron's impressions of the British settlement.
Morand, the banknote forger.
Baudin shows his charts and instructions to King.
Departure of the French ships.
Rumours as to their objects.
King's prompt action.
The Cumberland sent after them.
Acting Lieutenant Robbins at King Island.
The flag incident.
Baudin's letters to King.
His protestations.
Views on colonisation.
Le Naturaliste sails for Europe.


Le Geographe sails for Kangaroo Island.
Exploration of the two gulfs in the Casuarina by Freycinet.
Baudin's erratic behaviour.
Port Lincoln.
Peron among the giants.
A painful excursion.
Second visit to Timor.
Abandonment of north coast exploration.
Baudin resolves to return home.
Voyage to Mauritius.
Death of Baudin.
Treatment of him by Peron and Freycinet.
Return of Le Geographe.
Depression of the staff and crew.


Establishment of the First Empire.
Reluctance of the French Government to publish a record of the
Report of the Institute.
The official history of the voyage authorised.
Peron's scientific work.
His discovery of Pyrosoma atlanticum.
Other scientific memoirs.
His views on the modification of species.
Geographical results.
Freycinet's charts.


Further consideration of Napoleon's purposes.
What Australia owes to British sea power.
Influence of the Napoleonic wars.
Fresh points relative to Napoleon's designs.
Absence of evidence.
Consequences of suspicions of French intentions.
Promotion of settlement in Tasmania.
Tardy occupation of Port Phillip.
The Swan River Settlement.
The Westernport scheme.
Lord John Russell's claim of "the Whole" of Australia for the British.
The designs of Napoleon III.
Australia the nursling of sea power.




LE GEOGRAPHE AND LE NATURALISTE. From the drawing in Freycinet's Atlas of

MAP OF NEW HOLLAND (AUSTRALIA). From Freycinet's Atlas of 1807.


TRACK CHART OF LE GEOGRAPHE. From Freycinet's Atlas of 1812.

MAP OF TERRE NAPOLEON. From Freycinet's Atlas of 1807.

FRENCHMAN'S ROCK, KANGAROO ISLAND. From a photograph by Mr. Alfred
Searcy, Harbourmaster, South Australia.

GENERAL CHARLES DECAEN. After the portrait in the Library at Caen.

CAPTAIN NICOLAS BAUDIN. From an engraving.

FRANCOIS PERON. From the drawing by Lesueur.



1602. Abel Tasman born.

1603. Death of Queen Elizabeth.

1606. Voyage of Quiros; finding and naming of Austrialia del Espiritu

1606. First charter to the Virginia Company.

1620. Pilgrim Fathers found colony of New Plymouth.

1642. Tasman's first voyage; discovery of Tasmania.

1643. Death of Louis XIII.

1644. Tasman's second voyage; exploration of northern Australia.

1649. Execution of Charles I.

1652. Birth of William Dampier.

1655. English conquest of Jamaica.

1658. Death of Oliver Cromwell.

1659. Death of Tasman.

1682. Penn founds Pennsylvania.

1683. The French found Louisiana.

1686 to 1688. Dampier's voyage in the Cygnet; anchorage in Cygnet Bay,
Western Australia.

1688. Fall of the Stuart dynasty; accession of William of Orange.

1699. Dampier's voyage in the Roebuck; anchorage in Sharks Bay.

1714. Death of Queen Anne.

1728. Birth of James Cook.

1756. Birth of Nicolas Baudin. De Brosses publishes his Histoire des
Navigations aux Terres Australes.

1759. Wolfe captures Quebec.

1765. Watt's invention of the steam-engine.

1766. Bougainville's voyage to the South Seas.

1768 to 1770. Cook's voyage in the Endeavour; discovery of Botany Bay,
Port Jackson, and eastern Australia.

1769. Charles Decaen born.

1769. Birth of Napoleon Bonaparte.

1771. Marion-Dufresne's voyage to Tasmania and New Zealand.

1773. Boston tea riots.

1774. Matthew Flinders born.

1774. Meeting of first American Congress.

1775. Francois Peron born.

1776. Declaration of Independence.

1778 to 1779. Cook's third voyage and death.

1778. Death of Chatham.

1785 to 1788. Voyage of La Perouse; call at Port Jackson.

1788. Founding of New South Wales.

1789. Mutiny of the Bounty.

1789. Washington elected first President of United States.
Fall of the Bastille.

1790. Flinders joins the Navy.

1790. Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution.

1791. Vancouver on the western Australian coast.
Dentrecasteaux's voyage to Australia.
Flinders sails with Bligh's second bread-fruit expedition.

1791. Passing of the Canada Act.

1795. Flinders' first voyage to Australia in the Reliance.

1795. Ceylon surrendered to the British by the Dutch.
Establishment of the Institute of France.

1797. Battle of Cape St. Vincent.
Battle of Camperdown.

1798. Discovery of Bass Strait and of Westernport by George Bass.
Flinders and Bass circumnavigate Tasmania in the Norfolk.

1798. Battle of the Nile.
Irish Rebellion.

1799. Bonaparte becomes First Consul of the French Republic.

1800. (May) Bonaparte authorises the despatch of Baudin's expedition.
(October) The expedition sails.
(December) Grant reaches Port Jackson in the Lady Nelson.

1800. Battle of Marengo.

1801. (May) Baudin's ships reach Australia.
(July) Flinders sails from England in the Investigator.
(August) Le Geographe reaches Timor.
(November) Baudin's ships sail from Timor to Tasmania.
(December) The Investigator reaches Australia.

1801. Battle of Copenhagen.

1802. (January) Murray discovers Port Phillip.
(February) Flinders discovers Spencer's Gulf; Murray enters Port Phillip.
(March) French ships separated by storm.
(April) Meeting of Flinders and Baudin in Encounter Bay; Flinders enters
Port Phillip.
(May) Investigator reaches Port Jackson.
(June) Baudin reaches Port Jackson.
(July) Flinders sails for Gulf of Carpentaria.
(November) French ships leave Sydney.
(December) Le Naturaliste sails for Europe; the Cumberland at King
Island; Robbins erects the British flag; Le Geographe and Casuarina sail
for Kangaroo Island.

1802. Peace of Amiens.

1803. (January) Freycinet in Spencer's and St. Vincent's Gulfs.
(June) Le Geographe again at Timor; Le Naturaliste enters Havre;
Investigator returns to Port Jackson.
(July) Baudin abandons exploration and sails for Mauritius.
(August) Flinders wrecked in the Porpoise.
Derwent River Settlement formed.
(September) Death of Baudin.
(December) Flinders calls at Mauritius in the Cumberland; is imprisoned.

1803. Sale of Louisiana by France to United States.
Renewal of the great war.

1804. Le Geographe arrives at Lorient.
Hobart Settlement formed.

1804. Napoleon becomes Emperor.

1805. Battle of Trafalgar.

1806. Napoleon signs order for release of Flinders.

1806. Death of William Pitt.

1807. Publication of first volume of Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres
Australes, with first atlas.

1810. (July) Liberation of Flinders.
(October) Mauritius blockaded by the British.
(December) Capitulation of Mauritius; death of Peron.

1810. Napoleon marries Marie Louise.

1811. Second part of French atlas published.

1812. Publication of Freycinet atlas of charts.

1812. The retreat from Moscow.
British Naval War with U.S.A.

1814. Publication of Flinders' Voyage to Terra Australis; death of
Flinders (July).

1814. Abdication of Napoleon.

1815. Publication of volume 3 of Voyage de Decouvertes.

1815. Battle of Waterloo.

1816. Publication of volume 2 of Voyage de Decouvertes, with revised map
of Australia.

1821. Death of Napoleon.

1826. Westernport Settlement projected and abandoned.

1829. Foundation of Western Australia.

1832. Death of Decaen.

1832. English Reform Bill.

1835. Batman finds site of Melbourne.

1836. Foundation of South Australia.

1837. City of Melbourne founded.

1837. Accession of Queen Victoria.

1851. Colony of Victoria established.

1851. Louis Napoleon's coup d'etat.

1853. French annexation of New Caledonia.

1854. Crimean War.

1859. Colony of Queensland established.

1860. Lincoln, President of the United States.




A continent with a record of unruffled peace.
Causes of this variation from the usual course of history.
English and French colonisation during the Napoleonic wars.
The height of the Napoleonic empire and the entire loss of the French
The British colonial situation during the same period.
The colony at Port Jackson in 1800.
Its defencelessness.
The French squadron in the Indian Ocean.
Rear-Admiral Linois.
The audacious exploit of Commodore Dance, and Napoleon's direction to
"take Port Jackson" in 1810.

Australia is the only considerable portion of the world which has enjoyed
the blessed record of unruffled peace. On every other continent, in
nearly every other island large in area, "war's red ruin writ in flame"
has wrought its havoc, leaving evidences in many a twinging cicatrice.
Invasion, rebellion, and civil war constitute enormous elements in the
chronicles of nations; and Shelley wrote that the study of history,
though too important to be neglected, was "hateful and disgusting to my
very soul," because he found in it little more than a "record of crimes
and miseries." A map of the globe, coloured crimson as to those countries
where blood has flowed in armed conflicts between men, would present a
circling splash of red; but the vast island which is balanced on the
Tropic of Capricorn, and spreads her bulk from the tenth parallel of
south latitude to "the roaring forties," would show up white in the
spacious diagram of carnage. No foreign foe has menaced her thrifty
progress since the British planted themselves at Port Jackson in 1788;
nor have any internal broils of serious importance interrupted her
prosperous career.

This striking variation from the common fate of peoples is attributable
to three causes. First, the development of a British civilisation in
Australia has synchronised with the attainment and unimpaired maintenance
of dominant sea-power by the parent nation. The supremacy of Great
Britain upon the blue water enabled her colonies to grow to strength and
wealth under the protection of a mighty arm. Secondly, during the same
period a great change in British colonial policy was inaugurated.
Statesmen were slow to learn the lessons taught in so trenchant a fashion
by the revolt of the American colonies; but more liberal views gradually
ripened, and Lord Durham's Report on the State of Canada, issued in 1839,
occasioned a beneficent new era of self-government. The states of
Australia were soon left with no grievance which it was not within their
own power to remedy if they chose, and virtually as they chose. Thirdly,
these very powers of self-government developed in the people a signal
capacity for governing and being governed. The constitutional machinery
submitted the Executive to popular control, and made it quickly sensitive
to the public will. Authority and subjects were in sympathy, because the
subjects created the authority. Further, there was no warlike native race
in Australia, as there was in New Zealand and in South Africa, to
necessitate armed conflict. Thus security from attack, chartered
autonomy, and governing capacity, with the absence of organised
pugnacious tribes, have combined to achieve the unique result of a
continent preserved from aggression, disruption, or bloody strife for
over one hundred and twenty years.

There was a brief period, as will presently be related, when this happy
state of things was in some danger of being disturbed. It certainly would
have been impossible had not Great Britain emerged victorious from her
protracted struggle, first against revolutionary France, and later
against Napoleon, in the latter years of the eighteenth century and the
beginning of the nineteenth.

In those wars colonial possessions "became pawns in the game."* (* The
phrase is Professor Egerton's, Cambridge Modern History 9 735.) There was
no Imperialism then, with its strident note, its ebullient fervour and
flag waving. There was no national sense of pride in colonial Empire, or
general appreciation of the great potentialities of oversea possessions.
"The final outcome of the great war was the colonial ascendancy of Great
Britain, but such was not the conscious aim of those who carried through
the struggle."* (* Ibid page 736.) Diplomacy signed away with a dash of
the quill possessions which British arms had won after tough fights,
anxious blockades, and long cruises full of tension and peril. Even when
the end of the war saw the great Conqueror conquered and consigned to his
foam-fenced prison in the South Atlantic, Great Britain gave back many of
the fruits which it had cost her much, in the lives of her brave and the
sufferings of her poor, to win; and Castlereagh defended this policy in
the House of Commons on the curious ground that it was expedient "freely
to open to France the means of peaceful occupation, and that it was not
the interest of this country to make her a military and conquering,
instead of a commercial and pacific nation."* (* Parliamentary Debates 28


The events with which this book is mainly concerned occurred within the
four years 1800 to 1804, during which Europe saw Bonaparte leap from the
position of First Consul of the French Republic to the Imperial throne.
After great French victories at Marengo, Hochstadt, and Hohenlinden
(1800), and a brilliant naval triumph for the British at Copenhagen
(1801), came the fragile Peace of Amiens (1802)--an "experimental peace,"
as Cornwallis neatly described it. Fourteen months later (May 1803) war
broke out again; and this time there was almost incessant fighting on a
titanic scale, by land and sea, until the great Corsican was humbled and
broken at Waterloo.

The reader will be aided in forming an opinion upon the events discussed
hereafter, by a glance at the colonial situation during the period in
question. The extent of the dependencies of France and England in 1800
and the later years will be gathered from the following summary.

In America France regained Louisiana, covering the mouth of the
Mississippi. It had been in Spanish hands since 1763; but Talleyrand,
Bonaparte's foreign minister, put pressure upon Spain, and Louisiana
became French once more under the secret treaty of San Ildefonso (October
1800). The news of the retrocession, however, aroused intense feeling in
the United States, inasmuch as the establishment of a strong foreign
power at the mouth of the principal water-way in the country jeopardised
the whole trade of the Mississippi valley. President Jefferson,
recognising that the perpetuation of the new situation "would have put us
at war with France immediately," sent James Monroe to Paris to negotiate.
As Bonaparte plainly saw at the beginning of 1803 that another war with
Great Britain was inevitable, he did not wish to embroil himself with the
Americans also, and agreed to sell the possession to the Republic for
eighty million francs. Indeed, he completed arrangements for the sale
even before Monroe arrived.

Some efforts had also been made, at Bonaparte's instance, to induce Spain
to give up the Floridas, East and West, but European complications
prevented the exertion of pressure in this direction; and the whole of
Florida became part of the United States by treaty signed in 1819. The
sale of Louisiana lowered the French flag on the only remaining portion
of American territory that acknowledged the tricolour, except the
pestilential fragment of French Guiana, on the north-east of South
America, where France has had a footing since the beginning of the
seventeenth century, save for a short interval (1809 to 1815) when it was
taken by the British and Portuguese. But the possession has never been a
profitable one, and a contemporary writer, quoting an official
publication, describes it as enjoying "neither agriculture, commerce, nor
industry."* (* Fallot, L'Avenir Colonial de la France (1903) page 237.)

In the West Indies, France had lost Martinique and Guadeloupe during the
naval wars prior to Bonaparte's ascension to supreme authority. These
islands were restored to her under the Treaty of Amiens; were once more
captured by the British in 1809 to 1810; and were finally handed back to
France under the Treaty of Paris in 1814. Tobago and St. Lucia, taken
from France in 1803, were not restored.

The large island of San Domingo (the present republic of Haiti, the
Espanola of Columbus, and the first seat of European colonisation in the
west) had been occupied by French, Spanish, and British planters prior to
1796. The French had been there officially since Richelieu recognised and
protected the settlements made by filibusters early in the seventeenth
century. The decree of the revolutionary Assembly freeing the slaves in
all French possessions led to widespread insurrections. There were scenes
of frightful outrage; and above the storm of blood and horror rose to
fame the huge figure of the black hero, Toussaint L'Ouverture. At the
head of a negro army he at first assisted the French to overturn Spanish
rule; but having attained great personal power, and being a man of
astonishing capacity for controlling the people of his own race, and for
mastering military and governmental problems, he determined to use the
opportunity to found an autonomous state under the suzerainty of France.
By January 1801 Toussaint L'Ouverture was in possession of the capital.
But Bonaparte would not tolerate the domination of the black conqueror,
and despatched an expedition to San Domingo to overthrow his government
and establish French paramountcy. The result was disastrous. It is true
that Toussaint was captured and exiled to France, where he died miserably
in prison at Besancon in 1803; but the white troops under General Leclerc
perished of yellow fever in hundreds; the blacks retired to the mountains
and harassed the suffering French; whilst the vigilance of British
frigates, and the requirements of European policy, obviated all
possibility of effective reinforcements being sent. Gallic authority in
San Domingo ended ingloriously, for the negroes in 1803 drove the
debilitated chivalry of France in defeat and disaster to the sea, and
chose to be their ruler one who, like themselves, had commenced life as a
slave. Napoleon said at St. Helena that his attempt to subjugate San
Domingo was the greatest folly of his life.

In the Indian Ocean the French possessed the Isle of France (now, as a
British colony, called Mauritius) and Reunion. They had not yet
established themselves in Madagascar, though there was some trade between
the Mascareignes and the colonists of the Isle of France. Bonaparte
during the Consulate contemplated making definite attempts to colonise
Madagascar, and, early in 1801, called for a report from his first
colonial minister, Forfait. When he obtained the document, he sent it
back asking for more details, an indication that his interest in the
subject was more than one of transient curiosity. Forfait suggested the
project of establishing at Madagascar a penal colony such as the British
had at Port Jackson;* (* Prentout, L'Ile de France sous Decaen, 302.) but
subsequent events did not favour French colonial expansion, and nothing
was done.

The British captured Pondicherry and the other French settlements in
India in 1793, but agreed to restore them under the Treaty of Amiens. For
reasons which will be indicated later, however, the territories were not
evacuated by British troops, who continued to hold them till the
post-bellum readjustment of 1815 was negotiated.

A similar record applies to Senegal, in West Africa. It had been French
since the era of Richelieu, with intervals of capture, restoration, and
recapture. The British ousted their rivals once more in 1804, and gave
back the conquest in 1815.

A careful examination of these details reveals a remarkable fact.
Although the year 1810 saw the Napoleonic empire at the crest of its
greatness in Europe; although by that time the Emperor was the mightiest
personal factor in world politics; although in that year he married a
daughter of the Caesars, and thought he had laid plans for the foundation
of a dynasty that should perpetuate the Napoleonic name in association
with Napoleonic power--yet, in that very year, France had been stripped
of the last inch of her colonial possessions. The nation in whose
glorious Pantheon were emblazoned the great names of Montcalm and
Dupleix, of Jacques Cartier and La Salle, of Champlain and La
Bourdonnais, and whose inveterate capacity for colonisation of even the
most difficult kind can never be doubted by any candid student of her
achievements in this field, both before and since the disastrous
Napoleonic age, was now naked of even so much as a barren rock in a
distant sea upon which to plant her flag.

Such is the picture of the French colonial system as it presents itself
during the period within which occurred the events described in this
book. These facts give poignancy to the reflection of the distinguished
philosophical historian who has written of his country: "A melancholy
consequence of her policy of interference in neighbouring states, and of
occupying herself with continental conquests, has always been the loss of
her naval power and of her colonies. She could only establish oversea
possessions on a durable foundation on the condition of renouncing the
policy of invasion that she practised in Europe during the centuries.
Every continental victory was balanced by the ruin of our naval power and
of our distant possessions, that is to say, the decrease of our real
influence in the world."* (* Leroy-Beaulieu, Colonisation chez les
Peuples Modernes, 1902 edition, 1 220.)


It would be simple to sum up the colonial situation of Great Britain in
the period under review, by saying that she gained just in the measure
that France lost. But such a crude formula would not convey a sufficient
sense of her actual achievements. The end of the great war left her with
a wider dominion than that with which she was endowed when she plunged
into the struggle; but it left her also with augmented power and
prestige, a settled sense of security, and a steeled spirit of
resolution--elements not measurable on the scale of the map, but counting
as immense factors in the government and development of oversea

The details of the British colonial empire during the storm epoch, are as

In Canada she governed a belt of country stretching from the Atlantic to
the Pacific, divided for administrative purposes into two areas, one of
which, Lower Canada--embracing the cities of Quebec and Montreal, and
including the basin of the St. Lawrence--was populated principally by
people of French origin. It would be too much to suppose that these
colonists, who jealously preserved the French language and the French
tradition, were indifferent to the doings of their kin across the water;
and there were, indeed, many who cherished the hope that events would so
shape themselves as to restore the authority of France in this part of
the New World. But the habitant was Roman Catholic as well as French, and
the hierarchy was profoundly distrustful of the regime which it regarded
as the heritage of the hateful ideas of 1789. We may speculate as to what
would have happened if Napoleon had set himself to woo the affections of
the French Canadians. But throughout the great wars Canada remained loyal
to the British connection, despite internal difficulties and discontents.

Great Britain also held Newfoundland, as well as those maritime provinces
which have since become federated as part of the Dominion.

In South America she possessed British Guiana, and for a period, as
related above, French Guiana also.

In the West Indies, in 1800, her flag flew over the entire crescent of
the Windward and Leeward groups from Granada to the Virgins; she was
mistress of Trinidad, Tobago, Jamaica, the "still vexd" Bermudas and the
whole bunch of the Bahamas; and she had interests in San Domingo. At the
Peace of Amiens she retained only Trinidad of the islands captured during
the war; and she presented no very stubborn resistance to the negro
revolt that lost her any further control over the largest of the sugar

She had the Cape of Good Hope in her custody in 1800, but weakly allowed
it to be bartered away by diplomacy at Amiens; only, however, to reassert
her power there six years later, when it became at length apparent to
British statesmen--as it surely should have been obvious to them
throughout--that Australia and India could not be secure while the chief
southern harbour of Africa was in foreign possession.

Ceylon was retained as a sparkling jewel for the British crown when so
much that had been won in fair fight was allowed to slip away. The
capture of Java (1811) and its restoration to the Dutch belong to a later
period; whilst the growth of British power in India scarcely falls within
the scope of a brief review of the colonial situation, though of great
importance in its effects.

Malta, which has usually been classed as a colony, though its principal
value is rather strategic than colonial, was occupied by the British in
September 1800, and the cat-footed efforts of Napoleonic diplomacy to get
her out of the island made it a storm centre in European politics in
these fiery years. Out she would not come, and did not. Neither Tzar nor
Emperor could get her out, by plot or by arms; and there she still


The position of the British in the South Seas demands special
consideration, as being immediately related to our subject. In 1800 the
only part of Australasia occupied by white people was Norfolk Island and
the small area at Port Jackson shut in between the sea and a precipitous
range of mountains that for thirteen years to come presented an
unconquerable barrier to inland exploration, despite repeated endeavours
to find a way across them. The settlement had spread only a few miles
beyond the spot where Governor Arthur Phillip had resolved to locate his
First Fleet company twelve years before. As yet no attempt had been made
to occupy Tasmania, which had been determined to be an island only two
years previously. New Zealand also was virgin ground for the European
colonist. The Maori had it all to himself.

The means of defending the little colony, in the event of an attack
during the war which raged from five years after its foundation till
1802, and again from 1803 for twelve years more, were insignificant. The
population in 1800 numbered rather more than five thousand, only about
one-half of whom were soldiers, officials, and free people.* (* The total
population of Sydney, Parramatta, and Norfolk Island on January 1, 1801,
was declared to be 5100, of whom 2492 were convicts--1431 men, 500 women,
and 561 children. Of the remainder, 1887 were "free people," being
neither on the civil nor the military establishment.) The remainder were
convicts, some of them being Irishmen transported for participation in
the rebellion of 1798, including not a few men of education. These men
were naturally writhing under a burning sense of defeat and oppression,
and were still rebels at heart. They were incarcerated with a
miscellaneous horde of criminals made desperate and resentful by harsh
treatment. It is scarcely doubtful that if a French naval squadron had
descended on the coast, the authorities would have had to face, not only
an enemy's guns in Port Jackson, but an insurrection amongst the unhappy
people whom the colony had been primarily founded to chastise. The
immigration of a farming and artisan class was discouraged; and it is
scarcely conceivable that, apart from the officials, the gaolers, and the
military, who would have done their duty resolutely, there were any in
the colony who, for affection, would have lifted a hand to defend the
land in which they lived, and the regime which they hated.

There was at the Governor's command a small military force, barely
sufficient to maintain discipline in a community in which there were
necessarily dangerously turbulent elements;* (* In a report to Governor
King, April 1805, Brevet-Major Johnson pointed out that the military were
barely sufficient for mounting guard, and urged "the great want of an
augmentation to the military forces of this colony" (Historical Records
of New South Wales 6 183). Colonel Paterson, in a letter to Sir Joseph
Banks, 1804, remarked that "it will certainly appear evident that our
military force at present is very inadequate" (Ibid 5 454). John
Blaxland, in a letter to Lord Liverpool, 1809, wrote that "it is to be
feared that if two frigates were to appear, the settlement is not capable
of opposing any resistance" (Ibid 7 231). An unsigned memorandum in the
Record Office, "bearing internal evidence of having been written by an
officer who was in the colony during the Governorship of Hunter," pointed
out that "a naval force is absolutely necessary on the coast of New South protect the colony from an attack by the French from the
Mauritius, which would have taken place long ago if the enemy had
possessed a naval force equal to the enterprise" (Ibid 7 248 to 250).)
but he was destitute of effective vessels for service afloat. When the
navigator Flinders was wrecked in the Porpoise in August 1803--his own
exploring ship, the Investigator, being by this time
unseaworthy--Governor King had no other craft to give him for his return
voyage than the decrepit Cumberland, a mere leaky little barge hardly fit
for better uses than ferrying a placid lake. The colony was, in short,
simply a kraal for yarding British undesirables and housing their
keepers; its remoteness was an advantage for the purpose in view; and it
never seemed to strike the officials in England who superintended its
affairs, that the adequate defence of a gaol against foreign aggression
was an undertaking that called for exertion or forethought. The
unreluctant retrocession of the Cape to the Dutch in 1800 indicates that
the interest of defending Australia was lost sight of in the midst of
what appeared to be more pressing considerations.

It has been remarked above that there was a period when the peace of
Australia was imperilled. The danger was obviated, certainly not because
of the efficiency of the defence, but rather through lack of enterprise
on the part of the Admiral in command of the French squadron in the
Indian Ocean. It will be well to narrate the circumstances, together with
an incident which illustrates in an amusing manner the kind of man this
officer was.

After the signing of the Treaty of Amiens, Bonaparte sent out a squadron
commanded by Rear-Admiral Linois, conveying General Charles Decaen, who
was commissioned to administer the former French possessions in India,
which, under the terms of the treaty, were to be surrendered to France.
But when the expedition arrived at Pondicherry, the Governor-General of
India, Lord Wellesley, gave orders to his subordinates that no
concessions were to be made to the French without his express authority;
and as he stubbornly refused to give his warrant for surrendering an inch
of territory, there was nothing for General Decaen to do but sail away to
Mauritius, then, as already remarked, a French colony. Lord Wellesley
acted under secret orders from the Secretary of State, Lord Hobart, dated
October 17, 1802, only seven months after the treaty was signed, for the
British Government did not believe in the permanency of the peace and did
not desire the French to re-assert a footing in India, where their
presence, in the event of a renewal of hostilities, would be dangerous.

When the war was renewed, Linois, with his squadron, was still in the
Indian Ocean. The Isle of France was not a self-supporting colony, but
had to depend on money and supplies obtained either from Europe or from
the vessels of the East India Company, which, from time to time, were
captured by French privateers and men-of-war. When Nelson shattered the
naval power of France at Trafalgar in 1805, and vigilant British frigates
patrolled the whole highway of commerce from Europe to the Cape of Good
Hope, Decaen's position became precarious. The supplies sent out to him
were frequently captured by the enemy; and had it not been that Port
Louis became a regular nest of adventurous French privateers--"pirates,"
the British called them--who frequently found a rich prey in the shape of
heavily laden India merchantmen, his garrison must soon have been starved

The incident to which reference has been made occurred in 1804, and is
probably without a parallel in naval history as an example of the effect
of audacity acting on timidity. It was known that a convoy of ships
belonging to the East India Company was to leave Canton early in the
year. Linois, with five vessels, including his flagship, the Marengo, 74
guns, sailed for the Straits of Malacca to intercept them. On February
14, near Polo Aor, to the north-east of Singapore, the French sighted the
convoy, sixteen Company ships, fourteen merchantmen and a brig, all laden
with tea, silks, and other rich merchandise.

The East India Company's vessels carried guns, but they were not equipped
for facing heavily armed men-of-war. Their crews were not trained
fighting men; they were deeply laden, and their decks were heavily
cumbered. Moreover, they were not protected by a naval squadron; and had
Rear-Admiral Linois been a commander of daring, initiative, and resource,
the greater part, or the whole, of this enormous mass of floating
treasure might have fallen like a ripe peach into his hands.

But he had to contend with an English sailor of astounding and quite
picturesque assurance in Nathaniel Dance, the commodore of the fleet.
Dance fully expected, when he left Canton, that he would meet French
raiders, though he was astonished when he saw five sail under the
tricolour bearing up towards him. But he had thought out what he intended
to do if attacked; and, partly by courage, partly by a superb piece of
"bluff," he succeeded completely.

Before sailing, the Company ships had been freshly painted. Their gun
embrasures showed up more fearsome to the eye of imagination than they
were in reality. Dance also carried blue ensigns, which were hoisted on
four of his craft when the French made their appearance. He resorted to
this device with the deliberate purpose of making the strongest vessels
of his convoy look like British men-of-war. In fact, he commanded a fleet
of opulent merchantmen, the best of which, by the mere use of brushes and
pots of paint, and by the hoisting of a few yards of official bunting,
were made to resemble fighting ships. But, wonder of wonders! this
scarecrow strategy struck terror into the heart of a real Rear-Admiral,
and, as a French historian somewhat lugubriously, but quite candidly,
acknowledges: "Les ruses de Dance reussirent; les flammes bleues, les
canons de bois, les batteries peintes, produisirent leur effet."

No sooner did the French squadron appear, than Dance drew up his convoy
in two lines, with the fifteen smaller vessels under the lee of the
sixteen larger ones, which presented their painted broadsides to the foe.
It was a manoeuvre which threatened a determination to fight, and Linois
was disposed to be cautious. He was puzzled by the number of ships,
having been informed by an American captain at Batavia that only
seventeen were to leave Canton. The larger fleet, and the blue ensigns
fluttering from four masts, imbued him with a spirit of reluctance which
he dignified with the name of prudence. As a naval historian puts it,
"The warlike appearance of the sixteen ships, the regularity of their
manoeuvres, and the boldness of their advance, led the French Admiral to
deliberate whether a part of them were not cruisers."* (* James, Naval
History 3 247. There is a contemporary account of the incident in the
Gentleman's Magazine (1804) volume 74 pages 963 and 967.) Linois did not
like to attack, as darkness was approaching, but argued that if the bold
face put upon the matter by the British were merely a stratagem, they
would attempt to fly in the night; in which case he would not hesitate to
chase them. But Dance did nothing of the kind. He had taken his enemy's
measure; or, to quote the French historian again, "il comprit l'etat
moral de son adversaire." He maintained his formation during the night,
keeping blue lights burning on the four ships which sported the blue
ensign, to enforce the illusion that they were the naval escort of the
convoy, and were eager for battle. In the morning Linois was quite
satisfied that he really had to contend with a fleet pugnaciously
inclined, which, if he tried to hurt them, would probably hurt him more.
Cheers broke from the British decks as the Marengo bore up. Dance then
manoeuvred as if his intention were to shut in the French squadron
between two lines, and rake them on both flanks. This clever movement so
scared the Rear-Admiral that he determined to run. A shot was fired from
his flagship, which killed one man and wounded another on the Royal
George; whereupon the British sailors fired their guns in return, and
kept up a furious, but quite harmless, cannonade for forty minutes. Not a
single French ship was hit; but under cover of the thick smoke which "the
engagement" occasioned, Linois and his squadron sailed away, and left the
cheering Britons in the peace which they so certainly required, but had
so audaciously pretended that they did not in the least degree desire.

Dance became temporarily a national hero. The Englishman enjoys a joke,
and at a period of extreme tension the impudent exploit of the commodore
provoked a roar of delighted and derisive laughter throughout the British
Isles. He was feted by the City of London, knighted by King George,
presented with a sword of honour, and endowed by the Company with a
handsome fortune.

On the other hand, Napoleon was furious. Linois "has made the French flag
the laughing stock of the universe," he wrote to his Minister of Marine,
Decres.* (* Correspondance de Napoleon I (1858 to 1870) volume 9 document
8024.) Again he said, "The conduct of Linois is miserable"; and in a
third letter, summing up in a crisp sentence the cause of so many French
failures on the blue water, he said: "All the maritime expeditions that
have been despatched since I have been at the head of the Government have
failed because our admirals see double, and have found, I do not know
where, that one can make war without running any risks;" "it is honour
that I wish them to conserve, rather than a few wooden vessels and some
men." It was while still smarting under this same indignity, and urging
his Minister to hurry the sending of ships with supplies for the support
of the Isle of France, that Napoleon made one of his most famous retorts.
Decres, with the obsequiousness of a courtier, had written that if the
Emperor insisted on ordering certain ships to be despatched, "I should
recognise the will of God, and should send them." "I will excuse you from
comparing me to God," wrote Napoleon; and, prodding the dilatory Minister
again to make haste, he wrote, "You can surely, to meet the needs of our
colonies, send from several ports vessels laden with flour. There is no
need to be God for that!"* (* Correspondance, volume 17 document 13,960.)

Now, if instead of the timid Linois, the French squadron in the Indian
Ocean had been commanded by an Admiral endowed with the qualities of
dash, daring, and enterprise, the consequences to the weak little British
settlement at Sydney would have been disastrous. After Trafalgar, British
interests in the South and the East were more amply safeguarded. But
before that great event, Linois had magnificent opportunities for doing
mischief. Port Jackson would have been a rich prize. Stores, which the
Isle of France badly needed, could have been obtained there plentifully.
Ships from China frequently made it a port of call, preferring to take
the route through the recently discovered Bass Straits than to run the
hazard of capture by crossing the Indian Ocean. It was just a lucky
accident that the enemy's admiral was a nervous gentleman who was afraid
to take risks. General Decaen, a fine soldier, openly cursed his nautical
colleague; but nothing could strike a spirit of vigorous initiative into
the breast of Linois. He was always afraid that if he struck he would be
struck at--in which view he was undoubtedly right.

Did Napoleon himself realise that there was so rich a prize in Port
Jackson? Not until it was too late. In 1810, when he was fitting out
another expedition for aggressive service in the Indian Ocean, he
probably remembered what he had read in Peron's account of the Voyage de
Decouvertes aux Terres Australes about the British colony there, and
directed that the new squadron should "take the English colony of Port
Jackson, which is to the south of the Isle of France, and where
considerable resources will be found" ("faire prendre la colonie anglaise
de Jackson"--sic),* (* Correspondance, volume 20 document 16,544.) But
the task was well-nigh hopeless then, and the squadron never sailed.
Probably it would not have reached the Indian Ocean if it had left
Europe, for the Cape, which was in Dutch hands when Linois had his great
chance, was recaptured by the British in January 1806. In 1810 Admirals
Pellew and Bertie were in command of strong British forces, and Lord
Minto, the Governor-General of India, was determined to root the French
out of the Isle of France, and clear India of danger from that source.
They succeeded, and Mauritius has been British ever since.

We must now leave the sphere of conflict in which the destinies of the
world were being shaped, and enter upon another phase of this history.
The reader will:

   "slip across the summer of the world,
Then, after a long tumble about the Cape
And frequent interchange of foul and fair,"

--will accompany for a while an illustrious British explorer in his task
of filling up the map of the globe.


The Investigator at Kangaroo Island.
Thoroughness of Flinders' work.
His aims and methods.
His explorations; the theory of a Strait through Australia.
Completion of the map of the continents.
A direct succession of great navigators: Cook, Bligh, Flinders, and
What Flinders learnt in the school of Cook: comparison between the
healthy condition of his crew and the scurvy-stricken company on the
French vessels.

On April 7, 1802, His Majesty's ship Investigator, 334 tons, Commander
Matthew Flinders, was beating off the eastern extremity of Kangaroo
Island, endeavouring to make the mainland of Terra Australis, to follow
the course of discovery and survey for which she had been commissioned.
The winds were very baffling for pursuing his task according to the
carefully scientific method which Flinders had prescribed for himself. He
had declared to Sir Joseph Banks, the President of the Royal Society,
before he left England, that he would endeavour so to explore the then
unknown coasts of the vast island for which he himself afterwards
suggested the name Australia, "that no person shall have occasion to come
after me to make further discoveries."* (* Flinders to Banks, April 29,
1801, Historical Records of New South Wales 4 351.) This principle of
thoroughness distinguished his work throughout the voyage. Writing
thirteen years later, after the long agony of his imprisonment in
Mauritius, he said that his "leading object had been to make so accurate
an investigation of the shores of Terra Australis, that no future voyage
to the country should be necessary" for the purpose; and that had not
circumstances been too strong for him, "nothing of importance should have
been left for future discoverers upon any part of these extensive
coasts."* (* Flinders, A Voyage to Terra Australis 2 143.) Nobody can
study Flinders' beautiful charts without recognising them as the work of
a master of his craft; and so well did he fulfil his promise, until the
debility of his ship and a chain of misfortunes interposed to prevent
him, that the Admiralty charts in current use are substantially those
which Flinders made over a hundred years ago.* (* Sir J.K. Laughton in
Dictionary of National Biography 19 328.)

His method, though easy enough to pursue in a modern steamer,
comparatively indifferent to winds and currents, was one demanding from a
sailing ship hard, persistent, straining work, with unflagging vigilance
and great powers of endurance. It was this. The Investigator was kept all
day so close along shore that the breaking water was visible from the
deck, and no river mouth or inlet could escape notice. When the weather
was too rough to enable this to be done with safety, Flinders stationed
himself at the masthead, scanning every reach of the shore-line. "Before
retiring to rest," he wrote, "I made it a practice to finish the rough
chart for the day, as also my astronomical observations and bearings."
When darkness fell, the ship hauled off from the coast, and every
morning, as soon after daylight as possible, she was brought in-shore
again, great care being taken to resume the work at precisely the point
where it was suspended the night before. "This plan," he wrote, "to see
and lay down everything myself, required constant attention and much
labour, but was absolutely necessary to obtaining that accuracy of which
I was desirous."

Before Flinders reached Kangaroo Island, he had, in this painstaking
manner, discovered and mapped the stretch of coast westward from the head
of the Great Australian Bight, charted all the islands, and, by following
the two large gulfs, Spencer's and St. Vincent's, to their extremities,
had shattered the theory commonly favoured by geographers before his
time, that a passage would be found cleaving the continent from the Gulf
of Carpentaria to the Strait which George Bass had discovered in 1798.*
(* Pinkerton, in his Modern Geography (1807) volume 2 588, published
after Flinders had made his principal discoveries, but before the results
were known, reflected the general opinion in the passage: "Some suppose
that this extensive region, when more thoroughly investigated, will be
found to consist of two or three vast islands, intersected by narrow
seas." The Committee of the Institute of France, which drew up the
instructions for the expedition commanded by Baudin, directed him to
search for a supposed strait dividing Australia longitudinally into "two
great and nearly equal islands" (Peron, Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres
Australes 1 5). With these passages may be compared the following from
Kerr's General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, published
in 1824, ten years after the appearance of Flinders' book: "There are few
voyages from which more important accessions to geographical knowledge
have been derived than from this voyage of Captain Flinders, especially
when we reflect on the great probability that New Holland...[observe that
Kerr had not adopted the name Australia, which Flinders suggested only in
a footnote] will soon rank high in population and wealth. Before his
voyage it was doubtful whether New Holland was not divided into two great
islands, by a strait passing between Bass Straits and the Gulf of
Carpentaria. Captain Flinders has put an end to all doubts on this point.
He examined the coast in the closest and most accurate manner; he found,
indeed, two great openings; these he sailed up to their termination; and
consequently, as there were no other openings, and these were mere
inlets, New Holland can no longer be supposed to be divided into two
great islands. It must be regarded as forming one very large one; or
rather, from its immense size, a species of continent" (Kerr 18 462).)

That part of the southern coast of Australia lying between Cape Leeuwin
and Fowler Bay, in the Bight, had been explored prior to Flinders' time,
partly by Captain George Vancouver, one of Cook's men, in 1791, and
partly in 1792 by the French commander, Bruni Dentrecasteaux, who was
despatched in search of the gallant La Perouse--"vanished trackless into
blue immensity."* (* Carlyle, French Revolution book 2 cap 5.) Flinders
carefully revised what they had done, commencing his elaborate,
independent survey immediately after the Investigator made the Leeuwin,
on December 6, 1801. He had therefore been just four months in this
region, when he left his anchorage at Kangaroo Island--four months of
incessant daily and nightly labour diligently directed to the task in
hand. Always generous in his praise of good work, he paid a warm tribute
to the quality of the charts prepared by Beautemps Beaupre, "geographical
engineer" of La Recherche, Dentrecasteaux's corvette. "Perhaps no chart
of a coast so little known as this is, will bear a comparison with its
original better than this of M. Beaupre," he said; and though he put
forward his own as being fuller in detail and more accurate, he was
careful to point out that he made no claim for superior workmanship, and
that, indeed, he would have been open to reproach if, after having
followed the coast with Beaupre's chart in hand, he had not effected
improvements where circumstances did not permit his predecessor to make
so close an examination. It is an attractive characteristic of Flinders,
that he never missed an opportunity of appreciating valuable service in
other navigators.

But from the time when the Investigator passed the head of the Bight, the
whole of the coast-line traversed was virginal to geographical science.
With a clean sheet of paper, Flinders began to chart a new stretch of the
earth's outline, and to link up the undiscovered with the known portions
of the great southern continent. Our interest in his work is intensified
by the reflection that of all the coasts of the habitable earth, this was
the last important portion still to be discovered. True it is that
research in the arctic and antarctic circles remained to be pursued, and
still remains. Man will not cease his efforts till he knows his planet in
its entirety, though the price of the knowledge may be high. But when he
has compassed the extreme ends of the globe, he will not have found a
rood of ground upon which any one will ever wish to live. The earth lust
of the nations is not provoked by thoughts of the two poles. Ruling out
the frozen regions, therefore, as places where discovery is pursued
without thought of future habitation, it is a striking fact that this
voyage of Flinders opened up the ultimate belt of the earth's contour
hitherto unknown. The continents were finally unveiled when he concluded
his labours. Europe, the centre of direction, had comprehended the form
of Asia, had encircled Africa, had brought America within ken and
control. It had gradually pieced together a knowledge of Australia, all
but the extensive area the greater part of which it was left for Flinders
to reveal. The era of important modern coastal discovery within habitable
regions, which commenced with the researches directed by Prince Henry the
Navigator from 1426 to 1460, and attained to brilliancy with Columbus in
1492 and Vasco da Gama in 1497, ended with Flinders in 1802 and 1803. He
ranges worthily with that illustrious company of "men full of activity,
stirrers abroad, and searchers of the remote parts of the world," of whom
Richard Hakluyt speaks, and is outshone by none of them in the
faithfulness with which his work was done, and in all the qualities that
make up the man of high capacity and character entrusted with a great

When Flinders was appointed to the command of the Investigator, he was
only twenty-seven years of age. But he had already won distinction by his
demonstration that Bass Strait was a strait, and not a gulf, a fact not
proved by George Bass's famous voyage from Sydney to Westernport in a
whale-boat. His circumnavigation of Tasmania--then called Van Diemen's
Land--in the Norfolk; the discovery of the Tamar estuary and Port
Dalrymple; some excellent nautical surveying among the islands to the
north-west of Tasmania; and an expedition along the Queensland coast, had
also earned for him the confidence of his official superiors. His ardour
for discovery, and the exact, scientific character of his charts and
observations, won him a powerful and steadfast friend in Sir Joseph
Banks, who had been with Cook in the Endeavour in 1768 to 1771, and never
lost his interest in Australian exploration. At the beginning of his
naval career Flinders had tasted the "delights of battle." As a
midshipman on the Bellerophon (Captain Pasley), he played his small part
on the "glorious first of June" (1794), when "Black Dick," Lord Howe, won
his greatly vaunted victory over the French off Brest.

But before this event his tastes and aspirations had set in the direction
of another branch of the naval service. A voyage to the South Seas and
the West Indies under Bligh, in the Providence, in 1791, had revealed to
his imagination the glory of discovery and the vastness and beauty of the
world beyond European horizons. The fame and achievements of Cook were
still fresh and wonderful in the mouths of all who followed the sea.
Bligh, a superb sailor--not even the enemies whom he made by his rough
tongue and brusque manner denied that--taught him to be a scientific
navigator; and when he threaded the narrow, coral-walled waters of Torres
Strait, he knew that to the southward were coasts as yet unmarked on any
chart, seas as yet unploughed by any keel. For this work of exploration
Flinders nourished a passion as intense as that which inferior natures
have had for love, avarice, or honours. It absorbed all his life and
thought; and opportunity, becoming in his case the handmaid of capacity,
was abundantly justified by accomplishment.

There is one striking fact which serves to "place" Flinders among
navigators. As has just been observed, he learnt his practical navigation
under Bligh, on that historically unfortunate captain's second
bread-fruit expedition, when he was entrusted with the care of the
scientific instruments. Now, Bligh had perfected his navigation under
Cook, on the Resolution, and actually chose the landing-place in
Kealakeakua Bay, where the greatest English seaman who ever lived was
slain. Here is a school of great sailors: Cook the master of Bligh, Bligh
the master of Flinders; and Flinders in turn had on board the
Investigator as a midshipman, his cousin, John Franklin, to whom he
taught navigation, and who acquired from him that "ardent love of
geographical research" which brought him immortal fame, and a grave
amongst the ice-packs and the snows of the North-West Passage.* (* See
Markham, Life of Sir John Franklin page 43 and Traill, Life of Franklin
page 16. Traill's graceful sentences are worth transcribing: "The example
of the fine seaman and enthusiastic explorer under whom he served must
indeed, for a lad of Franklin's ardent temperament, have been an
education in itself. Throughout his whole life he cherished the warmest
admiration for the character of Matthew Flinders, and in later years he
welcomed the opportunity of paying an enduring tribute to his old
commander's memory in the very region of the world which his discoveries
had done so much to gain for civilisation." It is pleasant to find
Flinders speaking cordially of his young pupil in a letter written during
the voyage. "He is a very fine youth, and there is every probability of
his doing credit to the Investigator and himself.") There is nothing
comparable with this direct succession of illustrious masters and pupils
in the history of navigation. The names of all four are indelibly written
on the map of the world. Three of them--Cook, Flinders, and Franklin--are
among our very foremost navigators and discoverers, men whom a race proud
of the heritage of the sea will for ever hold in honour and affection;
whilst the fourth, Bligh, though his reputation is wounded by association
with two mutinies, was in truth a daring and a brilliant seaman, and a
brave man in a fight. Nelson especially thanked him for noble service at
Copenhagen, and his achievement in working a small, open boat from the
mid-Pacific, where the mutinous crew of the Bounty dropped him, through
Torres Strait to Timor, a distance of 3620 miles, stands memorably on the
credit side of his account.

See what it meant to have been trained in a school that observed the
rules and respected the traditions of James Cook. When at the end of his
long voyage of nine months and nine days, Flinders took the Investigator
through Port Jackson heads into harbour (Sunday, May 9, 1802), he had not
a sick man on board.* (* Voyage 1 226.) His crew finished hearty,
browned, and vigorous. He was able to write from the Cape of Good Hope
that "officers and crew were, generally speaking, in better health than
on the day we sailed from Spithead, and not in less good spirits."
Scrupulous attention to cleanliness and hygiene produced this result in
an age when scurvy was more to be feared than shipwreck. On every fine
day the decks below and the cockpit were washed, dried with stoves, and
sprinkled with vinegar. Care was taken to prevent the crew from sleeping
in wet clothes. At frequent intervals beds, chests, and bags were opened
out and exposed to the sweetening influences of fresh air and sunshine.
Personal cleanliness was enforced. Lime-juice and other anti-scorbutics
were frequently served out: a precautionary measure which originated in
Cook's day, and which down to our own times has caused all British
sailors to be popularly known as "lime-juicers" in the American Navy. The
dietary scale and the cooking were subjects of careful thought. This keen
young officer of twenty-seven looked after his company of eighty-seven
people with as grave and kindly a concern as if he were a grey-bearded
father to them all; and was liberally rewarded by their affection. During
his imprisonment in Mauritius, one of his men stayed with him voluntarily
for several years, enduring the unpleasantness of life in confinement far
away from home, out of sheer devotion to his commander; and did not leave
until Flinders, becoming hopeless of liberation, insisted on his taking
advantage of an opportunity of going to England.

There is a touching proof of Flinders' tender regard for his men in the
naming of a small group of islands to the west of the bell-mouth of
Spencer's Gulf. A boat's crew commanded by the mate, John Thistle, was
drowned there, through the boat capsizing. Thistle was an excellent
seaman, who had been one of Bass's whale-boat crew in 1798, and had
volunteered for service with the Investigator. Not only did Flinders name
an island after him, and another after a midshipman, Taylor, who perished
on the same occasion, but he gave to each of the islands near Cape
Catastrophe the name of one of the seamen who lost their lives in the
accident. In a country where men are valued for their native worth rather
than on account of rank or wealth, such as is happily the case to a very
large degree in Australia--and this is a far finer thing than mere
political democracy--perhaps nothing in the career of Flinders is more
likely to ensure respect for his memory, apart from the value of his
achievements, than this perpetuation of the names of the sailors who died
in the service.

Throughout the voyage he promoted amusements among his people; "and when
the evenings were fine the drum and fife announced the forecastle to be
the scene of dancing; nor did I discourage other playful amusements which
might occasionally be more to the taste of the sailors, and were not
unseasonable."* (* Voyage 1 36.) The work may have been strenuous, and
the commander was unsparing of his own energies; but the life was happy,
and above all it was healthy. The pride which Flinders had in the result
was modestly expressed: "I had the satisfaction to see my people orderly
and full of zeal for the service in which we were engaged." Really, it
was a splendid achievement in itself, and it showed that, if the hardship
of life in a small ship, on a long voyage, could not be abolished, at
least horror could be banished from it.

Compare this genial record with that of the French exploring ships Le
Geographe and Le Naturaliste, which were quite as well equipped for a
long voyage. They had, it is true, been longer at sea, but they had an
advantage not open to Flinders in being able to refit at Mauritius, had
rested again for some weeks at Timor, and had spent a considerable time
in the salubrious climate of southern Tasmania, where there was an
abundance of fresh food and water. When, on June 23, 1802, Le Geographe
appeared off Port Jackson, to solicit help from Governor King, it was
indeed "a ghastly crew" that she had on board. Her officers and crew were
rotten with scurvy. Scarcely one of them was fit to haul a rope or go
aloft. Out of one hundred and seventy men, only twelve were capable of
any kind of duty, and only two helmsmen could take their turn at the
wheel. Not a soul aboard, of any rank, was free from the disease.* (*
Peron, Voyage de Decouvertes 1 331 to 340; Flinders, Voyage 1 230.) Of
twenty-three scientific men and artists who sailed from Havre, in 1800,
only three returned to France with the expedition, and before its work
was over the Commander, Baudin, and several of the staff were dead. The
chief naturalist, Francois Peron, and one of the surgeons, Taillefer,
have left terrible accounts of the sufferings endured. Putrid water,
biscuits reduced almost to dust by weevils, and salt meat so absolutely
offensive to sight and smell that "the most famished of the crew
frequently preferred to suffer the agonies of hunger" rather than eat
it--these conditions, together with neglect of routine sanitary
precautions, produced a pitiable state of debility and pain, that made
the ship like an ancient city afflicted with plague. Indeed, the vivid
narratives of Thucydides and Boccaccio, when they counted:

   "the sad degrees
Upon the plague's dim dial, caught the tone
Of a great death that lay upon the land,"

are not more haggard in their naturalism than is Taillefer's picture of
the sufferings of the sailors to whom he ministered. Their skin became
covered with tumours, which left ugly black patches; where hair grew
appeared sores "the colour of wine lees"; their lips shrivelled,
revealing gums mortified and ulcerated. They exhaled a breath so fetid in
odour that Taillefer loathed having to administer to them such remedies
as he had to give; and at one part of the voyage even his stock of drugs
was depleted, so great was the demand upon his resources. Their joints
became stiff, their muscles flaccid and contracted, and the utter
prostration to which they were reduced made him regret that they retained
so much of their intellectual faculties as to make them feel keenly the
weight of despair.* (* Voyage de Decouvertes 1 340.)

When Le Geographe stood outside Sydney Harbour, a boat's crew of
Flinders' bluejackets from the Investigator, themselves fresh from their
own long voyage, had to be sent out to work her into port. So enfeebled
were the French sailors that they could not even muster sufficient energy
to bring their vessel to the place where succour awaited them. While we
deplore this tale of distress, we can but mark the striking contrast with
the English vessel and her jolly crew. Truly, it meant something for a
commander to have learnt to manage a ship in a school nourished on the
example of Cook, whose title to fame might rest on his work as a
practical reformer of life at sea, even if his achievements as a
discoverer were not so incomparably brilliant.

We must now return to the Investigator, which, at the commencement of the
chapter, we left fighting with a contrary wind east of Kangaroo Island.
Although the sloop quitted her anchorage early on the morning of April 7,
at eight o'clock in the evening she had made very little headway across
Backstairs Passage. On the 8th, she was near enough to the mainland for
Flinders to resume his charting, and late in the afternoon of that day
occurred an incident to which the next chapter will be devoted.
Meanwhile, it is important to observe that had the wind blown from the
west or south-west, instead of from the east or south-east, Flinders
would have accomplished the survey of the coast between Cape Jervis, at
the entrance of St. Vincent's Gulf, and Cape Banks, before the French
discovery ship, Le Geographe, emerged from Bass Strait on her voyage
westward. The wind that filled Captain Baudin's sails, and drove his ship
forward towards the seas in which the Investigator was making important
discoveries, was the wind that delayed Flinders at Kangaroo Island. Had
the weather been more accommodating to the English captain and less to
the French, there cannot be the slightest doubt that even the fifty
leagues of coast, or thereabouts, which are all that can be claimed to
have been discovered by Baudin, would have been first charted by
Flinders. But the French expedition was so unfortunate, both as to
results and reputation--so undeservedly unfortunate, in some respects, as
will be shown in later chapters--that this small measure of success may
be conceded ungrudgingly. It is, indeed, somewhat to be regretted that
the small part of the Australian coast which was genuinely their own
discovery, should not have been in a more interesting region than was
actually the case; for the true "Terre Napoleon" is no better for the
most part than a sterile waste, with a back country of sand, swamp, and
mallee scrub, populated principally by rabbits, dingoes, and bandicoots.


Meeting of the Investigator and Le Geographe in Encounter Bay.
Flinders cautious.
Interview of the two captains.
Peron's evidence.
The chart of Bass Strait.
Second interview: Baudin inquisitive.
Baudin's account of his explorations.

On the afternoon of April 8,* (* In his manuscript journal, which was
used by the Quarterly reviewer of the first volume of the Voyage de
Decouvertes, in August 1810, Flinders gave the date on which he met Le
Geographe as April 9th (Quarterly Review volume 4 52). But there is no
contradiction. In his journal Flinders gave the date of the nautical day,
which commenced at noon. As he met Baudin's corvette in the late
afternoon, it was, by nautical reckoning, April 9th. But by the calendar,
the civil day commencing at midnight, the date was April 8th, as stated
by Flinders in his published volumes, by both Peron and Louis de
Freycinet, and in the log of Le Geographe. A similar difference of dates,
which puzzled Labilliere in writing his Early History of Victoria 1 108,
occurs as to the first sighting of Port Phillip by Flinders. It is
explained in exactly the same way.) the man at the masthead of the
Investigator reported a white rock ahead. He was mistaken. Glasses were
turned towards it, and as the distance lessened it became apparent that
the white object was a sail. The sloop was at this time in latitude 35
degrees 40 minutes south, longitude 138 degrees 58 minutes east. To meet
another vessel in this region, many leagues from regular trading routes,
in a part of the world hitherto undiscovered, was surprising. The
Investigator stood on her course, and as the strange ship became more
clearly defined it was evident that she was making towards the British
sloop. Flinders therefore "cleared for action in case of being attacked."

He knew that the French Government had sent out ships having like objects
with his own; he knew that some influential persons in England,
especially the Court of Directors of the East India Company, were uneasy
and suspicious about French designs; and he had been fully instructed by
the Admiralty as to the demeanour he should maintain if he met vessels
flying a hostile flag. But though his duty prescribed that he must not
offer any provocation, he could not forget that when he left Europe Great
Britain and France were still at war, and preparation for extremities was
a measure of mere prudence.

The stranger proved to be "a heavy-looking ship without any top-gallant
masts up." On the Investigator hoisting her colours, Le Geographe "showed
a French ensign, and afterwards an English jack forward, as we did a
white flag." Flinders manoeuvred so as to keep his broadside to the
stranger, "lest the flag of truce should be a deception." But the
demeanour of the French being purely pacific, he had a boat hoisted out
and went on board, Le Geographe having also hove to.

On the French vessel, meanwhile, similar curiosity had been provoked as
to the identity of the ship sailing east. Captain Baudin's men had been
engaged during the morning in harpooning dolphins, which they desired for
the sake of the flesh. Peron, in his narrative, waxes almost hysterically
joyous about the good fortune that brought along a school of these fish
just as the ship's company were almost perishing for want of fresh food.
They appeared, he says, like a gift from Heaven.* (* "Cette peche
heureuse nous parut comme un bienfait du ciel. Alors, en effet, le
terrible scorbut avoit commence ses ravages, et les salaisons pourries et
rongees de vers auxquelles nous etions reduits depuis plusieurs mois
precipitoient chaque jour l'affreux developpement de ce fleau." Voyage de
Decouvertes 1 323.) Unlike the bronzed and healthy crew of the
Investigator, the company on Le Geographe were suffering severely from
scurvy. The virulence of the disease increased daily. They were rejoicing
at the capture of nine large dolphins, which would supply them with a
feast of fresh meat, when the look-out man signalled that a sail was in
sight.* (* Mr. T. Ward, in his Rambles of an Australian Naturalist (1907)
page 153, relates that in 1889 he harpooned a large dolphin, Grampus
gris, in King George's Sound, and that whalers told him that dolphins
were at one time common in the Bight, in schools of two and three
hundred. As to dolphin flesh as food, the reader may like to be reminded
that Hawkins's men, in 1565, found dolphins "of very good colour and
proportion to behold, and no less delicate in taste" (Hakluyt's Voyages
edition of 1904 10 61). So also in 1705 a voyager to Maryland related the
capture of dolphins, "a beautiful fish to is also a good fish to
eat." "Narrative of a Voyage to Maryland," printed from manuscript in
American Historical Review 12 328.)

At first it was considered that the ship was Le Naturaliste, the consort
of Le Geographe, the two vessels having become separated in a storm off
the Tasmanian coast. But as the Investigator steered towards the French
and hoisted her flag, the mistake was corrected.

Flinders took Brown, the naturalist, with him on board, because he was a
good French scholar; but Captain Baudin spoke English "so as to be
understood," and the conversation was therefore conducted for the most
part in that language. Brown was the only person present at the first
interview on the 8th, and at the second on the following morning;* (* "No
person was present at our conversations except Mr. Brown" (Flinders,
Voyage 1 190). Robert Brown was a very celebrated botanist. Humboldt
styled him "botanicorum facile princeps." His Prodromus Florae Novae
Hollandiae is a classic of price.) both taking place in the French
captain's cabin. Peron, in the first volume of the Voyage de Decouvertes,
wrote as though he were present and heard what occurred between the two
commanders. "En nous fournissant tous ces details M. Flinders se montre
d'une grande reserve sur ses operations particulieres," he wrote; and
again: "apres avoir converse plus d'une heure avec nous." But his
testimony in this, as in several other respects, is not reliable. Baudin
wrote no detailed account of the conversations, nor did Brown; but
Flinders related what occurred with the minute care that was habitual
with him. Peron's evidence is at best second-hand, and he supplemented it
with such information as could be elicited by "pumping" the sailors in
Flinders' boat.* (* "Nous apprimes toutefois par quelques-uns de ses
matelots qu'il avoit eu beaucoup a souffrir de ces memes vents de la
partie du Sud qui nous avoient ete si favorables." The boatmen were not
questioned by Peron himself, who at this time could not speak English
(Freycinet, Voyage de Decouvertes 2 Preface page 17). Freycinet admits
that Peron was not present at the interviews, but says that Baudin
related what took place with "more or less exactitude." But as Freycinet
was not present himself either at the interviews or on the ship when
Baudin related what occurred, how could he know that the version of the
commander--at whom, after Baudin's death, he never missed an opportunity
of sneering--was merely "more or less" exact?) Even then he blundered,
for some of the things stated by him were not only contrary to fact, but
could not have been ascertained from Baudin, from Flinders, or from the

Peron stated, for example, that Flinders said that he had been
accompanied from England by a second vessel, which had become separated
from him by a violent tempest. There had been no second vessel, and
Flinders could have made no such assertion. Again, Peron wrote that
Flinders said that, hindered by contrary winds, he had not been able to
penetrate behind the islands of St. Peter and St. Francis, in Nuyts
Archipelago. Flinders made no such absurd statement. He had followed the
coast behind those islands with the utmost particularity. His track, with
soundings, is shown on his large chart of the section.* (* On this
statement the Quarterly reviewer of 1810 bluntly wrote: "Now, we will
venture not only to assert that all this is a direct falsehood (for we
have seen both the journal and charts of Captain Flinders, which are
fortunately arrived safe in this country), but also to pledge ourselves
that no such observations are to be found either in Captain Baudin's
journal or in the logbook of the Geographe." Quarterly Review 4 52. It
was a good guess. No such observation is contained in the printed log of
Le Geographe.) Once more, Peron stated that Flinders said that he had
lost a boat and eight men in the same gale as had endangered the French
ships in Bass Strait. Flinders had lost John Thistle, an officer to whom
he was deeply attached, and a crew of eight men off Cape Catastrophe, but
the incident occurred during a sudden squall. Moreover, Thistle and his
companions were drowned on February 21, whilst the storm in the
Strait--as Baudin told Flinders--occurred exactly a month later.

When Flinders got on board Le Geographe, he was received by an officer,
of whom he inquired for the commander. Baudin was pointed out to him, and
conducted him and Brown into the captain's cabin. Flinders then
"requested Baudin to show me his passport from the Admiralty, and when it
was found, and I had perused it, I offered him mine from the French
marine minister, but he put it back without inspection." The incident
serves to remind us that both commanders believed their nations to be at
war at this time. As a matter of fact, just a fortnight before the
meeting in Encounter Bay, diplomacy had patched up the brittle truce
ironically known as the Peace of Amiens (March 25). But neither Flinders
nor Baudin could have known that there was even a prospect of the
cessation of hostilities. Europe, when they last had touch of its
affairs, was still clanging with battle and warlike preparations, and the
red star of the Corsican had not yet reached its zenith. Baudin's
readiness to produce his own passport when "requested"--in a style prompt
if not peremptory, it would seem--and his indifference about that of the
English commander, should be noted as the first of a series of facts
which establish the purely peaceful character of the French expedition.

Baudin talked freely about the work upon which he had been engaged in
Tasmanian waters. Flinders inquired concerning a large island said to lie
in the western entrance of Bass Strait--that is, King Island--but Baudin
"had not seen it and seemed to doubt much of its existence." As a matter
of fact, Le Geographe had sailed quite close to the island, as indicated
on the track-chart showing her course, and that it should have been
missed indicated that the look-out was not very vigilant. Curiously
enough, too, Baudin marked down on his chart, presumably as the result of
this inquiry of Flinders, an island "believed to exist," but he put it in
the wrong place.

An incident that appealed to Flinders' dry sense of humour occurred in
reference to a chart of Bass Strait which Baudin had with him. This chart
was one which had been drawn from George Bass's sketch by Flinders
himself, and incorporated with his own more scientific chart of the north
coast of Tasmania and the adjacent islands. Bass had traversed, in his
whale-boat, the southern coast of Victoria as far as Westernport, but not
being a surveyor he had furnished only a rough outline of the lay of the
shore. Up to this time Baudin had not inquired the name of the commander
of the Investigator, and it was from not knowing to whom he was talking
that he fell into a blunder which the politeness, native to a French
gentleman, would certainly have made him wish to avoid. He began to
criticise the chart, finding great fault with the north side, but
commending the drawing of the south--that is, of northern Tasmania and
the islands near it. "On my pointing out a note upon the chart explaining
that the north side of the Strait was seen only in an open boat by Mr.
Bass, who had no good means of fixing either latitude or longitude, he
appeared surprised, not having before paid attention to it. I told him
that some other and more particular charts of the Strait and its
neighbourhood had since been published, and that if he would keep company
until next morning I would bring him a copy, with a small memoir
belonging to them. This was agreed to, and I returned with Mr. Brown to
the Investigator."

On the following morning Flinders and Brown again visited Le Geographe
with the promised chart. At the conclusion of this second interview,
Baudin requested that, should the Investigator fall in with Le
Naturaliste, Flinders would inform her captain that it was his intention
to sail round to Port Jackson as soon as the bad weather set in. "On my
asking the name of the captain of Le Naturaliste, he bethought himself to
ask mine, and finding it to be the same as the author of the chart which
he had been criticising, expressed not a little surprise, but had the
politeness to congratulate himself on seeing me." In a letter to Banks,
Flinders said that Baudin "expressed some surprise at meeting me, whom he
knew by name."* (* Historical Records of New South Wales 4 755.) He had
the name, of course, upon Flinders' chart of 1799.* (* The new chart
which Flinders gave to Baudin was published after Le Geographe left
Havre. The chart which he had in his possession was the one advertised in
the Moniteur on 8th Vendemiaire, Revolutionary Year 10. (September 30,
1800): "Nouvelle carte du detroit de Basse, situe entre la Nouvelle
Galles Meridionale, a la Nouvelle Hollande, lequel separe ces deux
parties; avec la route du vaisseau qui l'a parcouru et partie de la cote
a l'est de la Nouvelle Hollande, levee par Flinders. Prix deux francs."
This chart had been reproduced by the French Department of Marine from
the one published by Flinders in England in 1799, and several copies of
it had been supplied to Baudin and his officers for the use of the
expedition, though it was also offered for sale. See the Moniteur, 27
Thermidor, Revolutionary Year 11 (August 15, 1803), as to the engraving
of the chart at the French depot for the use of the expedition.)

At the second interview Baudin was more inquisitive than he had been on
the previous day. He had then been more disposed to talk about his own
discoveries in southern Tasmania than to ask questions about the
Investigator's work. "It somewhat surprised me," said Flinders, "that
Captain Baudin made no inquiries concerning my business upon this unknown
coast, but as he seemed more desirous of communicating information I was
happy to receive it." Another of the inaccuracies of Peron is that "M.
Flinders showed a great reserve concerning his particular operations."
There was no need of reserve, and none was shown. But "tact teaches when
to be silent," as Disraeli's Mr. Wilton observed; and an occasion for the
exercise of this virtue is presented when information likely to be
valuable is being given. Reflection, and what his officers had been able
to learn from Flinders' boat crew, however, had stimulated Baudin's
curiosity. On the 9th, therefore, he asked questions. Flinders, so far
from maintaining reserve, readily explained the discoveries he had made,
and furnished Baudin with some useful information for his own voyage. He
described how he had explored the whole of the south coast as far as the
place of meeting;* (* Manuscript Journal.) related how he had obtained
water at Port Lincoln by digging in the clay; pointed out Kangaroo Island
across the water, where an abundance of fresh meat might be procured;
"told him the name I had affixed to the island," in consequence of the
marsupials shot there; and "as proof of the refreshment to be obtained at
the island, pointed to the kangaroo skin caps worn by my boat's crew."
The return made for this courtesy was that upon the Terre Napoleon maps
the name Flinders gave was ignored, and "L'Ile Decres" was scored upon
it, this being done while the true discoverer was pent up in French
custody in an island of the Indian Ocean.

The most interesting statement made by Baudin will be dealt with in the
next chapter. The two commanders conversed on the 8th for about half an
hour, and on the second occasion, when Flinders presented the new chart
of Bass Strait, for a shorter period. Early on the morning of the 9th
they bade each other adieu. Flinders returned to the Investigator, and
the two ships sailed away--the French to retrace the coast already
followed by Flinders, but to find nothing that was new, because he had
left so little to be found; the English to proceed, first to King Island
and Port Phillip, and then through Bass Strait to Port Jackson, where the
two commanders met again.


Conflict of evidence between Baudin, Peron, and Freycinet as to whether
the French ships had sighted Port Phillip.
Baudin's statement corroborated by documents.
Examination of Freycinet's statement.
The impossibility of doing what Peron and Freycinet asserted was done.

One statement made by Captain Baudin to Flinders has been reserved for
separate treatment, because it merits careful examination.* (* The more
so as the conflict of evidence to be pointed out seems to have escaped
the notice of writers on Australian history. The contradictions are not
observed in Bonwick's Port Phillip Settlement, in Rusden's Discovery,
Survey, and Settlement of Port Phillip, in Shillinglaw's Historical
Records of Port Phillip, in Labilliere's Early History of Victoria, in
Mr. Gyles Turner's History of the Colony of Victoria, nor in any other
work with which the author is acquainted.)

He gave an account of the storm in Bass Strait which had separated him
from Le Naturaliste on March 21, and went on to say that "having since
had fair winds and fine weather, he had explored the south coast from
Westernport to our place of meeting without finding any river, inlet, or
other shelter which afforded anchorage." In his report to the Admiralty,
dated May 11, 1802, Flinders related what Baudin told him on this point,
in the following terms, which it is worth while to compare with those
used by him in his book, quoted above: "Captain Baudin informed me that
after parting with the Naturaliste in the Strait, in a heavy gale, he had
had fine weather, and had kept the coast close on board from Westernport
to the place of meeting, but that he had found no bay or place where a
vessel could anchor, the coast having but few bights in it, and those
affording nothing to interest." It will be seen that the official report
and the account given to the public twelve years later are in close
agreement. The important fact to be noticed is that Le Geographe had
slipped past Port Phillip without observing the entrance, and that her
captain was at this time entirely ignorant of the existence of the
harbour which has since become the seat of one of the greatest cities in
the southern hemisphere.

Now this statement, which is sufficiently surprising without the
introduction of complicating contradictions, becomes quite mysterious
when compared with the accounts given by Lieutenant Louis de Freycinet
and Francois Peron, the joint authors of the official history of the
French voyage. It is astonishing in itself, because a vessel sent out on
a voyage of exploration would not be expected to overlook so important a
feature as Port Phillip. Here was not a small river with a sandbar over
its mouth, but an extensive area of land-locked sea, with an opening a
mile and a half wide, flanked by rocky head-lands, fronted by usually
turbulent waters, at the head of a deep indentation of the coast. The
entrance to Port Phillip is not, it must be acknowledged, so easy to
perceive from the outside as would appear from a hasty examination of the
map. If the reader will take a good atlas in which there is a map of Port
Phillip, and will hold the plate in a horizontal position sufficiently
below the level of the eye to permit the entrance to be seen ALONG the
page, he will look at it very much as it is regarded from a ship at sea.*
(* A reduced copy of the Admiralty chart of the entrance (1907) is
prefixed to this chapter. The reader can perform the experiment with
that.) It will be noticed that a clear view into the port, except from a
particular angle, is blocked by the land on the eastern side (Point
Nepean) overlapping the tongue of land just inside the port on the
western side (Shortland's Bluff). Not until a vessel stands fairly close
and opposite to the entrance, so that the two lighthouses on the western
side, at Queenscliff, "open out," can the passage be discerned.* (*
Ferguson, Sailing Directions for Port Phillip, 1854--he was
harbour-master at the time--says (page 9): "Vessels having passed Cape
Schanck should keep a good offing in running down towards the entrance
until they open out the lighthouses, WHICH ARE NOT SEEN BEFORE BEARING
Findley, Navigation of the South Pacific Ocean, 1863, has a remark about
the approach to the port from the west: "In approaching Port Phillip from
the westward, the entrance cannot be distinguished until Nepean Point,
the eastern point, bears north-north-east, when Shortland's Bluff, on
which the lighthouses are erected, opens out, and a view of the estuary
is obtained." A Treatise on the Navigation of Port Phillip, by Captain
Evans (a pilot of thirty-six years' experience), has also been
consulted.) Indeed, a pilot of much experience has assured the writer
that ships, whose captains know the port, are sometimes seen "dodging
about" (the phrase is the pilot's) looking for the entrance. Yet it may
be allowed that if Le Geographe had sailed close in, with the shore on
her starboard quarter, and the coast had been examined with care, she
would hardly have missed the port; and, her special business being
exploration, she certainly ought not to have missed it.* (* In Appendix
B, at the end of this chapter, are given quotations from the journals of
Murray and Flinders, in which they record how they first saw the port.)

But although Baudin said he had seen nothing "to interest," both Peron
and Freycinet, in their volumes--published years later, after they had
learnt of the discovery of Port Phillip by Lieutenant John Murray in
January 1802--stated that it was seen from Le Geographe on March 30.
Peron wrote that shortly after daybreak, the ship being in the curve of
the coast called Baie Talleyrand on the Terre Napoleon maps--that is,
between Cape Schanck on the eastern side of Port Phillip heads, and Cape
Roadknight on the western side--the port was seen and its contours were
distinguished from the masthead.* (* The matter is sufficiently important
to justify the quotation of the passages in which Peron and Freycinet
recorded the alleged observation, and these are given at length in
Appendix A to this chapter.) Peron did not say that he saw it himself. He
merely recorded that it was seen. Freycinet did not see it himself
either. He was at this time an officer on Le Naturaliste, and was not on
the Terre Napoleon coasts at all until the following year, when he
penetrated St. Vincent's and Spencer's Gulfs. He, without indicating the
time of day, or stating that the port was merely viewed from aloft,
asserted that the entrance was observed, though the ship did not go

In the first place, the statements of Peron and Freycinet are not in
agreement. To observe the entrance was one thing; to trace the contours
from the masthead quite another. To do the first was quite possible,
though not, as will be shown, from any part of the route indicated on the
track-chart of Le Geographe. But to distinguish the contours of Port
Phillip from outside, over the peninsula, was not possible.

Here, at all events, is a sharp conflict of evidence. We must endeavour
to elicit the truth.

It is certain that Baudin had no motive for concealing his knowledge, if
he knew of the existence of Port Phillip when he met Flinders. Had his
cue been to prefer claims on account of priority of discovery, he would
have been disposed to make his title clear forthwith. Frankness, too, was
an engaging characteristic of Baudin throughout. He was evidently proud
of what his expedition had already done, and was, as Flinders wrote,
"communicative." Had he discovered a new harbour, he would have spoken
about it jubilantly. Moreover, as Flinders explained to him how he could
obtain fresh water at Port Lincoln, a fellow-navigator would surely have
been glad to reciprocate by indicating the whereabouts of a harbour in
which the Investigator might possibly be glad to take shelter on her
eastern course.

It is also clear that Flinders did not misunderstand Baudin. He was an
extremely exact man, and as he said that he was "particular in detailing
all that passed," we may take it that one with whom precision was
something like a passion would be careful not to misunderstand on so
important a point. Brown, too, was with him, a trained man of science,
who would have been quick to correct his chief in the event of a
misapprehension. Flinders so far relied on Baudin's statement that when,
on April 26, he sighted Port Phillip heads himself, he thought he was off
Westernport, which his friend George Bass had discovered in 1798. "It was
the information of Captain Baudin which induced this supposition," he
wrote.* (* See also the entry in his journal, Appendix B.) It was not
till he bore up and took his bearings that he saw that he could not be at
Westernport; and he then congratulated himself on having made "a new and
useful discovery"--unaware, of course, that Murray had found Port Phillip
in the Lady Nelson in the previous January.

It must be noted in addition that Baudin wrote a letter to Jussieu, the
distinguished French botanist and member of the Institute, nine months
later, in which he gave an account of his voyage up to date.* (* Printed
in the Moniteur, 22 Fructidor, Revolutionary Year 11. (September 9,
1803).) Therein he said not a word about seeing Port Phillip, nor did he
allude to the possibility of there being a harbour between Westernport
and Encounter Bay.

Baudin, then, knew nothing about Port Phillip when he met Flinders on
April 8. But if somebody else saw it from the masthead on March 30, why
was not the fact reported to the commander? Why was he not asked the
question whether so large a bay should be explored? Again, if Le
Geographe did sight Port Phillip, why did she not enter it? Here was a
magnificent chance for discoverers. They were necessarily unaware of
Murray's good fortune in January. As far as their knowledge could have
gone, the port was absolutely new to geography. If we believe Peron and
Freycinet, surely these were the most negligent explorers who ever sailed
the seas.* (* It is true that Cook did not enter Port Jackson when he
discovered and named it on May 6, 1770. But exploration, it must always
be remembered, was not the primary object of the voyage of the Endeavour,
as it was of Le Geographe. Cook, when he achieved the greatest extent of
maritime discovery made at one time by any navigator in history, was
simply on his way homeward from a visit to Tahiti, the primary purpose of
which was to enable astronomers to observe the transit of Venus. Cook,
too, made a record of the latitude and longitude of Port Jackson. No such
entry was made by the French relative to Port Phillip, as will presently
be shown.) But if we believe that Baudin spoke the truth to Flinders--and
the absence of all reference to the port in his letter to Jussieu is
alone sufficient to show that he did--what shall we say of the statements
of Peron and Freycinet, written after Baudin's death, after they had
learnt of Murray's discovery, and when they had set themselves the task
of making the work of the expedition appear as important as possible?

Now, Baudin's statement is confirmed by five documents, the testimony of
which is convincing.

1. As an appendix to volume 3 of the Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres
Australes, is printed the entire log of Le Geographe. The entry for March
30, 1802* (* Page 499.) (9th Germinal, Year 10 in the revolutionary
calendar, which is printed parallel with the ordinary dates), is latitude
38 degrees 33 minutes south, longitude 142 degrees 16 minutes east. The
reckoning is from the meridian of Paris, not of Greenwich.) The situation
when the entry was made, presumably at noon, was about midway between
Lorne and Apollo Bay, off the coast leading down in a south-westerly
direction to Cape Otway. The winds were east, east-north-east,
south-east, and east-south-east; weather very fine; a fresh wind blowing
("joli frais; beau temps"). It was the wind which was hindering Flinders,
sailing in the opposite direction. The column for "Remarques" opposite
this date was left blank. In other places where anything remarkable was
seen--even such a thing as a striking sunset--it was duly entered in the
proper place. But there was no entry relative to seeing Port Phillip from
the masthead, or observing the entrance, at any time. Baudin is
corroborated by the ship's log.

2. There is also appended to volume 3 of the same work a table of
geographical positions as calculated by the ship's officers. The
situation of Cape Schanck (Cap Richelieu on the French map) and of Ile
des Anglois (Phillip Island) are given; and next in the list comes Cap
Desaix (Cape Otway).* (* Page 544.) There is no record of a latitudinal
and longitudinal reading between these points. That is to say, the
position of Port Phillip is not indicated at all. In this case also the
column for "Remarques" is blank. Can we believe that if the port had been
observed, no attempt would have been made to fix the situation of it? The
latitudes and longitudes of some quite unimportant features of the coast
were duly noted. Here was a large bay, and not the slightest reference
was made to it in the table. The inevitable inference is that the French
saw nothing worth recording between Cape Schanck and Cape Otway. Baudin
is corroborated by the table of "positions geographiques."

3. The atlas issued with the first volume of the Voyage de Decouvertes in
1807 contained several coloured plates of views of coasts traversed by Le
Geographe. The work of the artists accompanying the expedition was very
beautiful; some of the plates have rarely been excelled in atlases of
this kind. These coast sketches, like narrow ribbons, prettily tinted,
were done from the deck of the ship, and represented the aspect of the
shore-line from seaward. The coasts of Bass Strait were duly represented,
but there was a gap between the Schanck and the Otway sides of Port
Phillip. Why? Obviously because the ship was not near enough to the coast
to enable the artists to see it clearly. Can we believe that men whose
particular task it was to depict the coasts traversed, would have missed
the picturesque gateway of Port Phillip if they had seen it? Baudin is
corroborated by the atlas.

4. The Moniteur of July 2, 1808, contained a long article by Lieutenant
Henri de Freycinet--elder brother of Louis--reviewing the work of the
expedition, on the occasion of the publication of Peron's first volume.
Now, Henri de Freycinet was Baudin's first lieutenant on Le Geographe. If
Port Phillip was seen from that ship on March 30, he should have seen it
if Baudin did not. If the captain was ill, or asleep, Henri de Freycinet
would be in charge. But in his article, though he described the
discoveries claimed to have been made with particular regard to the
so-called Terre Napoleon coasts, he made no reference to Port Phillip.
Baudin is corroborated by his chief officer.

5. Lastly, when Captain Hamelin returned to Europe with Le Naturaliste in
1803, Bonaparte's official organ, the Moniteur, published an article on
the voyage from information supplied partly by him and partly contained
in despatches.* (* Moniteur, 27 Thermidor, Revolutionary Year 11 (August
15, 1803).) Referring to Baudin's voyage along the "entierement
inconnues" southern coasts of Australia, the article said that he first
visited Wilson's Promontory (which it called Cap Wilson), and then
advanced along the coast till he met Captain Flinders. No reference was
made to seeing any port, although if one had been seen by any one on
board Le Geographe, it surely would have been mentioned with some amount
of pride in an official despatch.

As has already been said, Freycinet was not with Le Geographe on this
voyage, and therefore knew nothing about it personally. But before the
publication of the official history was completed, Peron died. Baudin was
also dead. Freycinet, who was preparing the maps, was instructed to
finish the work. He therefore wrote up from the notes and diaries of
other members of the expedition a geographical description of the coasts
traversed. His general plan, when describing coasts with which he had no
personal acquaintance, was to acknowledge in footnotes the particular
persons on whose notes he relied for his descriptions. But it is a
singular circumstance that when he came to describe this part of the
coast of Terre Napoleon, and to repeat, with an addition, Peron's
statement that Port Phillip was seen on March 30, he gave no footnote or
reference. In whose diary or notes was that fact recorded? It was not in
the ship's log, as we have seen. Who, then, saw Port Phillip from Le
Geographe? Henri de Freycinet did not; Baudin did not; Peron did not;
Louis de Freycinet was not there. If it were seen by a look-out man, did
no officer, or scientist, or artist on board, take the trouble to look at
it, or to make a note about it, or a drawing of it? What singular
explorers these were!

We must examine Freycinet's story a little more closely. He is not
content with saying, as Peron had done, that the port was seen from the
masthead. He is more precise--he, the man who was not there. He says:
"Nous en avons observe l'entree." That is more than Peron, who was there,
had claimed. If the "entrance" to Port Phillip was "observed" on March
30, still more incomprehensible is it that the ship did not enter, that
the fact was not mentioned in the log, that the latitude and longitude
were not taken, and that the artists neglected so excellent an

But that is not all. Freycinet, the man who was not there, and whose
narrative was not published till thirteen years after the voyage, has
further information to give us. He states, on whose authority we are not
told, that the country observed along part of this coast, between Cap
Suffren and Cap Marengo (that is, between Cape Patton and Cape Franklin),
presented "un aspect riant et fertile." The book containing these
descriptive words was, the reader will recollect, published in 1815. Now,
Flinders' volumes, A Voyage to Terra Australis, were published in 1814.
There he had described the country which he saw from inside the port as
presenting "a pleasing and in many places a fertile appearance." "Un
aspect riant et fertile" and "a pleasing and fertile appearance" are
identical terms. It may be a mere coincidence, though the comparison of
dates is a little startling. All the words which one can use are, as
Boileau said, "in the dictionaries"; every writer selects and arranges
them to suit his own ideas. But when Flinders said that the country
around Port Phillip looked "pleasing and fertile," he had seen it to
advantage. On May 1 he had climbed Station Peak, one of the You-Yang
group of mountains, and saw stretched at his feet the rich Werribee
Plains, the broad miles of fat pastures leading away to Mount Macedon,
and the green rolling lands beyond Geelong, opening to the Victorian
Western District. In May the kangaroo-grass would be high and waving,
full of seed, a wealth of luxuriant herbage, the value of which Flinders,
a country-bred boy, would be quick to appreciate. On the other side of
the bay he had climbed Arthur's Seat at the back of Dromana, saw behind
him the waters of Westernport which Bass had discovered, and traced the
curve of the coast as far into the blue distance as his eye could
penetrate. He had warrant for saying that the country looked "pleasing
and fertile." But how did Freycinet come to select those words, "un
aspect riant et fertile"? He was not there himself, and, as a matter of
probability, it seems most unlikely that such terms would occur to a
person who was there, either as applicable to the lands near Points
Nepean and Lonsdale, with their bastions of rock and ramparts of sand, or
to the scrubby and broken coast running down to Cape Otway, which, as a
matter of fact, is not fertile, except in little patches, and, even after
half a century of settlement, does not look as if it were. The conclusion
is hardly to be resisted that Freycinet thought he was safe in
appropriating, to describe land seen from seaward, terms which Flinders
had employed to describe land seen inside the port.

Three additional facts strengthen the conviction that Port Phillip was
never seen from Le Geographe, but that the statements of Peron and
Freycinet were made to cover up a piece of negligence in the exploration
of these coasts. The French, on their maps, lavishly bestowed names on
the capes, bays, and other features of the coasts seen by them. More will
be said on this subject in the next chapter. But meanwhile it is
important to notice that they gave no names to the headlands at the
entrance to Port Phillip, which are now known as Point Lonsdale and Point
Nepean. If they saw the entrance on March 30, why did they lose the
opportunity of honouring two more of their distinguished countrymen, as
they had done in naming Cap Richelieu (Schanck), Cap Desaix (Otway), Cap
Montaigne (Nelson), Cap Volney (Moonlight Head), and so many other
features of the coast? It is singular that while they named some capes
that do not exist--as, for instance, Cap Montesquieu, to which there is
no name on modern maps to correspond, and no projection from the coast to
which it can be applicable--they left nameless these sharp and prominent
tongues of rock which form the gateway of Port Phillip. But if they knew
nothing about the port until they learnt of its existence later at
Sydney, and saw no chart of it till an English chart was brought to their
notice, the omission is comprehensible.

Another fact which must not escape notice is that the French charts show
two lines of soundings, one along the inside of the Nepean peninsula, and
a shorter one towards the north. Mud Island is also indicated. How did
they get there? It was not even pretended in the history of the voyage
that Le Geographe went inside the heads. But see how the story grew: (a)
Baudin saw no port; (b) Peron says the port was seen from the masthead;
(c) Freycinet says the entrance was seen; (d) on the charts there are
actually soundings shown inside the harbour. Further consideration will
be given to these soundings in a later chapter.

The reader who has carefully followed the argument so far, will probably
have come to the conclusion that Captain Baudin's statement to Flinders
was perfectly true, and that the assertions of Peron and Freycinet which,
if veracious, would make Le Geographe the second ship that ever saw Port
Phillip--cannot be accepted. One other fact will clinch the case and
place the conclusion beyond doubt.

In 1812 Freycinet published a large folio volume of charts. The sixth
chart in the book is most valuable for our purpose. It is called a "Carte
generale du Detroit de Bass." Its importance lies in the fact that by
means of a dotted line it marks the track of Le Geographe throughout her
course. Now, this track-chart shows clearly that the ship was never, at
any moment, nearer than six or seven miles to Port Phillip heads. On the
greater part of her course across the so-called Baie Talleyrand she was
much farther from the land than that. On no part of her course would it
have been possible for a person at the masthead to see either the
entrance to Port Phillip or any part of the port itself. It shows that
the ship, while steering across from Cape Schanck in the direction of
Cape Otway, diverted a few miles to the north-west, and then abruptly
turned south-west. From any part of this course, the stretch of coast
where Port Phillip heads are would present the appearance of an unbroken
wall of rock, the gap being covered by the overlapping land on the
western side. The sudden north-westerly diversion, and then the sharp
turn south-west, seem to indicate that Baudin thought it well to sail up
to see if there was anything worth examining at the head of the bight,
and concluded that there was not.

There can be no more authoritative opinion on the possibility of doing
what Peron and Freycinet claimed was done, than that of a member of the
Port Phillip pilot service. The pilot steamer is almost incessantly on
duty in what the French chose to call Baie Talleyrand. The pilots know
the ground intimately; they are familiar with every part of the coast;
they see it in all weathers; they observe the entrance under all
conditions of light and atmosphere. Wishing, therefore, to confirm an
opinion already adequately supported, the writer showed two large
photographed copies of two of Freycinet's charts to an experienced member
of the pilot service, and asked him whether it would have been possible
for Port Phillip to be seen from the situation indicated, or anywhere in
the vicinity, under any conceivable conditions. He at once replied that
it was utterly impossible.* (* Indeed, he promptly said, in the direct,
emphatic speech which is the special privilege of sailors: "The man who
said he saw Port Phillip or the entrance from any point in that
neighbourhood would be lying.") Even if Le Geographe had sailed close
along shore, he further observed, nothing like the contour of the port
shown on Freycinet's chart could have been drawn from the masthead; and
the track-chart shows that the ship's course was several miles from the
coast. In fact, the chart shows more than could have been seen if the
French had sailed close up to the heads and looked inside.

Peron's statement--which is not confirmed by Freycinet--that it had at
first been determined to call the port "Port du Debut,"* (* See Appendix
A to this chapter.) is also rather puzzling. "Du Debut" of what? The
eastern extremity of the region marked "Terre Napoleon" on Freycinet's
charts is Wilson's Promontory, and the real "Port Du Debut" of the
territory so designated would be, if there is any relation between words
and things, not Port Phillip but Westernport.* (* In the Moniteur article
of 27th Thermidor, Revolutionary Year 11, Wilson's Promontory is referred
to as the point of departure: "Il visita d'abord le cap Wilson, d'ou il
prit son point de depart, et s'avanca vers l'ouest en suivant la cote
jusqu'a la distance de 15 degres de longitude.") Was there some confusion
in Peron's mind as to what port was seen? Unquestionably Le Geographe did
sight Westernport. Was it originally Baudin's intention to ignore Bass's
discovery of 1798, and, giving a French name to every feature of the
coast in Terre Napoleon, to call Westernport "Port du Debut"? That would
not have been an appropriate name for Port Phillip had it really been
seen on the morning of March 30, as it most certainly was not. But, it
being determined to denominate the land between Wilson's Promontory and
Cape Adieu "Terre Napoleon," Westernport might well have been counted as
the port of the beginning of the exploration of the territory, and, as
such, it would truly have been the Port du Debut. Freycinet, writing in
1824, acknowledged that Peron, "having written before the charts were
finished, made some mistakes relative to geography."* (* Preface to the
second edition of the Voyage de Decouvertes (1824) 1 page 16.) It is
possible that this was one of his errors; and it would be an easy one for
a man to make who was not familiar with the coast. But assuredly there
was no mere error on Freycinet's part.

What, then, are we to make of the statements of Peron and Freycinet?

The latter officer tells us, in one of his prefaces, that the French
Government was dissatisfied with the work of the expedition, and was at
first disposed to refuse to publish any record of it. Sir Joseph Banks,
closely in touch with movements relative to scientific work, had news of
the displeasure of Napoleon's ministers, and wrote to Flinders, then a
prisoner: "M. Baudin's voyage has not been published. I do not hear that
his countrymen are well satisfied with his proceedings" (June 1805).
Finally it was determined to issue a history of the expedition; but to
have published any charts without showing Port Phillip would have been to
make failure look ridiculous. By this time Freycinet, who was preparing
the charts, knew of the existence of the port. The facts drive to the
conclusion that the French had no drawing of Port Phillip of their own
whatever, but that their representation of it was copied from a drawing
of which possession had been acquired--how? It is quite clear that
Freycinet had to patch up the omissions in the work of his companions
from some source, to hide the negligent exploration which had missed one
of the two most important harbours in Australia. We shall hereafter see
how he did it.


The following are the two passages from Peron and Freycinet to which
reference is made in the text. Peron wrote (Voyage de Decouvertes 1 316):
"Le 30 mars, a la pointe du jour, nous portames sur la terre, que nous
atteignimes bientot. Un grand cap, qui fut appele Cap Richelieu [it is
now Cape Schanck] se projette en avant, et forme l'entree d'une baie
profonde, que nous nommames Baie Talleyrand. Sur la cote orientale de
cette baie, et presque vers son fond, se trouve un port, dont on
distinguoit assez bien les contours du haut des mats; nous le designames
sous le nom de Port du Debut; mais ayant appris dans la suite qu'il avoit
ete reconnu plus en detail par le brick Anglois The Lady Nelson, et qu'il
avoit ete nomme Port Philipp [sic] nous lui conserverons avec d'autant
plus de plaisir ce dernier nom, qu'il rappelle celui du fondateur d'une
colonie dans laquelle nous avons trouve des secours si genereux et si

Freycinet wrote (Voyage de Decouvertes 3 115): "Nous venons de vanter la
beaute du port Western; mais celui que l'on rencontre a peu de distance
vers l'O ne paroit pas moins recommandable, tant par son etendue que par
commodite. Nous en avons observe l'entree le 30 mars 1802, sans toutefois
penetrer dans son interieur. Les Anglois, qui l'ont examine avec details,
lui ont donne le nom de Port Phillip en l'honneur du premier gouverneur
de la colonie du Port Jackson...Vers l'interieur on voit de hautes
montagnes; elles se rapprochent du rivage a la hauteur du Cap Suffren; et
de ce point jusqu'au cap Marengo, la cote, plus elevee encore, est d'un
aspect riant et fertile."


The reader may find it convenient to have appended also, the passages
from the journals of Murray and Flinders, in which they record their
first view of Port Phillip. These journals were used by Labilliere in
writing his Early History of Victoria (1 78 and 110). Murray's was then
at the Admiralty; it is now in the Public Record Office. That of Flinders
was placed at the disposal of Labilliere by the distinguished grandson of
the explorer, Professor Flinders Petrie, whose great work in revealing to
us moderns an ampler knowledge of the oldest civilisations, those of
Syria and Egypt, is not a little due, one thinks, to capacity inherited
from him who revealed so much of the lands on which the newest of
civilisations, that of Australia, is implanted.

Murray, in the Lady Nelson, sailing close along-shore west from
Westernport on January 5, 1802, saw a headland bearing west-north-west
distant about twelve miles, and an opening in the land that had the
appearance of a harbour north-west ten or twelve miles. When within a
mile and a half, he wrote: "With closer examination of my own, and going
often to the masthead, I saw that the reef did nearly stretch across the
whole way, but inside saw a fine sheet of smooth water of great extent.
From the wind blowing on this shore, and fresh, I was obliged to haul off
under a press of sail to clear the land, but with a determination to
overhaul it by and by, as no doubt it has a channel into it, and is
apparently a fine harbour of large extent." Murray did not enter the port
until after his mate, Bowen, had found the way in, with a boat, in

Flinders, after visiting King Island, resumed his work along the mainland
on April 25. He wrote in his journal: "Until noon no idea was entertained
of any opening existing in this bight; but at that time an opening became
more and more conspicuous as we ran farther west, and high land at the
back appeared to be at a considerable distance. Still, however, I
entertained but little hopes of finding a passage sufficiently deep for a
ship, and the bearings of the entrance prevented me from thinking it the
west entrance into Westernport." In the journal, as in the report to the
Admiralty, and, twelve years later, in his book, Flinders wrote that it
was what Baudin told him that made him think there could be no port in
the neighbourhood. "From appearances I at first judged this port to be
Westernport, although many others did not answer; though Captain Baudin
had met with no harbour after leaving that, and from his account he had
fine weather and kept the shore close on board to the time of his meeting


Imprisonment of Flinders in Mauritius.
The French atlas of 1807.
The French charts and the names upon them.
Hurried publication.
The allegation that Peron acted under pressure.
Freycinet's explanations.
His failure to meet the gravest charge.
Extent of the actual discoveries of Baudin, and nature of the country
The French names in current use on the so-called Terre Napoleon coasts.
Difficulty of identifying features to which Baudin applied names.
Freycinet's perplexities.
The new atlas of 1817.

What happened to Matthew Flinders when, after a brief sojourn in Sydney
Harbour, he left to continue his explorations in the northern waters of
Australia, is generally known. While he was at work in the Gulf of
Carpentaria, the condition of the Investigator caused him much
uneasiness, and when she was overhauled, the rotten state of her timbers
compelled him to return. She was then condemned as unseaworthy. On again
sailing north in the Porpoise, he was wrecked on the Barrier Reef. Making
his way back to Sydney in a small open boat built from the wreckage, and
well named the Hope, he was given the use of the Cumberland, a mere barge
of only twenty-nine tons, in which to carry himself and part of his
shipwrecked company to England. Compelled by the leaky condition of the
crazy little craft, and the inefficiency of the pumps, to put into
Mauritius, then a French possession, he was detained as a prisoner by the
French governor, General Decaen, for six and a half years.

There is no need, for our immediate purpose, to linger over these
occurrences, inviting as they are, with a glint of Stevensonian romance
in the bare facts, and all the pathos that attaches to the case of a
brave and blameless man thwarted and ruined by perversity and malignity.
Frequently have the facts been wrongly written, as for instance when
Blair states, in his Cyclopaedia of Australia, that Baudin in Le
Geographe called at Mauritius after Flinders was imprisoned, and, instead
of procuring his release, "persuaded the Governor to confine him more
rigorously." Poor Baudin--he had been in his grave three months when
Flinders appeared at the island in dire distress, and Le Geographe itself
left the day before his arrival.

What is clear, however, is that Flinders was detained in a captivity that
broke down his health and wrecked his useful life, first on General
Decaen's own responsibility, and later--though the evidence on this point
is not specific--in accordance with influences from Paris; and that
during his imprisonment an attempt was made to deprive him of credit for
his discoveries by the publication of the first volume of the French
official history and its accompanying atlas.

The atlas published in 1807* (* The date on the imprint of volume 1,
though the charts bear the date 1808. A second part of the atlas,
containing a few additional small charts, was issued in 1811.) contained
two large charts, the work of Lieutenant Louis de Freycinet. The first
was a "Carte generale de la Nouvelle Hollande," with the title inscribed
upon a scroll clutched in the talons of an imperial eagle, a most
fearsome wild-fowl, that with aggressive beak and flaming eye seemed to
assert a claim to the regions denominated on what it held. This was the
most complete map of Australia published up to the date named. The second
was entitled "Carte generale de la Terre Napoleon." In this case the
title was held by feathered Mercury in graceful flight, displaying the
motto "Orbis Australis dulces exuviae." An exquisite little vignette
under the title (by Lesueur) should not escape notice. Upon both charts,
the whole of southern Australia, from Wilson's Promontory to Cape Adieu
in the Bight, was styled Terre Napoleon. To nearly every cape, bay,
island, peninsula, strait, and gulf in this extensive region was affixed
a name, in most cases, though not in all, that of some Frenchman of
eminence during the revolutionary and Napoleonic period. The Spencer's
Gulf and St. Vincent's Gulf, which Flinders had discovered, were
respectively named Golfe Bonaparte and Golfe Josephine.* (* The latter
was named "in honour of our august Empress," said Peron. It was a pretty
piece of courtiership; but unfortunately Napoleon's nuptial arrangements
were in a state of flux, and when the trenchant Quarterly reviewer of
1810 came to discuss the work, the place of Josephine was occupied by
Marie Louise. The reviewer saucily suggested: "Bonaparte has since
changed it for Louisa's Gulf.") The large island which Flinders had
pointed out to Baudin, and which he informed that officer he had named
Kangaroo Island, became Ile Decres. The Yorke's Peninsula of Flinders was
styled Presqu'Ile Cambaceres; his Investigator Strait became Detroit de
Lacepede; and his Backstairs Passage, Detroit de Colbert. To-day the
Terre Napoleon charts look like a partial index to the Pantheon and Pere
Lachaise. Laplace, Buffon, Volney, Maupertuis, Montaigne, Lannes, Pascal,
Talleyrand, Berthier, Lafayette, Descartes, Racine, Moliere, Bernadotte,
Lafontein, Condillac, Bossuet, Colbert, Rabelais, D'Alembert, Sully,
Bayard, Fenelon, Voltaire,* (* Voltaire's name is on the Terre Napoleon
sectional chart, but it seems to have been crowded out of the large Carte
Generale. As there is no actual bay in Spencer's Gulf to correspond with
the Baie Voltaire shown on the Terre Napoleon chart, the omission does
not matter much. But one would have liked to have Voltaire's opinion on
the subject of his exclusion.) Jeanne d'Arc, L'Hopital, Massena, Turenne,
Jussieu, Murat--soldiers, statesmen, scientists, authors, philosophers,
adorn with their memorable names these most un-Gallic shores. The
Bonaparte family was pleasantly provided for. Thus we find the Isles
Jerome, Baie Louis and Baie Hortense (after Josephine's daughter).
Outside the Terre Napoleon region, on the north coast, the name Golfe
Joseph Bonaparte bespoke geographical immortality for another member of
the family. But we miss Rousseau and Turgot, deplore the absence of
Corneille and La Bruyere, and feel that at least a sand-bank or two might
have been found for Quesnay and the economists, if only as a set-off
against the disparagement of Burke.

Yet it is on the whole an illustrious company, representative of the best
and brightest in French intellect and character. When the brave old
Spanish navigators of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries discovered
a new port or cape, they commonly gave it the name of the saint on whose
day in the calendar it was found; and the map of Central and South
America is a memorial at once of their piety and their enterprise. But
Baudin's expedition having no such guide--Comte's Positivist Calendar, if
not of later date, would have been useful--their selection of names was
quite an original effort. Unfortunately, the "discoveries" to which the
names were applied were not original.

Two facts are incontrovertible: (1) that Flinders had discovered and
charted the whole of the south coast of Australia from Fowler Bay to
Encounter Bay--except the south of Kangaroo Island, which is represented
by a dotted line on his charts--before he met Le Geographe on April 8,
1802; and (2) that the French officers knew that he had done so. Flinders
explained to Baudin the discoveries which he had made when they met in
Encounter Bay, and afterwards when the Investigator and the French ships
lay together in Port Jackson he showed him one of his finished charts to
illustrate what he had done. "So far from any prior title being set up at
that time to Kangaroo Island and the parts westward," wrote Flinders,
"the officers of the Geographe always spoke of them as belonging to the

The French names would appear to have been applied by Baudin, if
Freycinet is to be believed; for he uses the phrase "les nommes que
Baudin a donnes."* (* Voyage de Decouvertes 2 Preface page 23.) But when
Freycinet wrote those words Baudin was dead, and the publication of the
charts had evoked much indignation on account of the gross wrong done to
Flinders. In one or two cases the names were certainly not Baudin's, as
will be made clear in a later chapter.* (* Take, for instance, Ile
Decres, the name given to Kangaroo Island. Decres did not become Minister
for the Navy till October 3, 1801. Baudin was then at sea, and probably
never knew anything about Decres' accession to office. It is pretty well
certain that the name was not given to the island until after the return
of the expedition, when Baudin was dead.) Certainly Baudin was in no
sense responsible for the publication. Peron and Freycinet were the men
who put their names to the charts and volumes; and they were by no means
exculpated by the suggestion that Baudin devised a nomenclature
calculated to deprive Flinders of the credit that he had won. Both Peron
and Freycinet knew, too, when they issued their volume and atlas, that
Flinders was being held in captivity in Mauritius; and the dead captain
was certainly not guilty of the meanness and mendacity of hurrying
forward the issue of books that pretended to discoveries never made,
while the real discoverer was prevented from asserting his own rightful

That the publication was hurried forward as soon as Napoleon's government
gave the order to print, is evident from the incompleteness of the atlas
of 1807. It contained a table of charts--"Tableau General des planches
qui composent l'atlas historique"--which were not inserted in the book;
and in one of the four copies of this rare volume which the author has
been able to examine, the previous owner, or the bookseller from whom it
was purchased, collating the contents with the table, had pencilled in
the margin, "All wanting," being under the impression that the copy was
imperfect. But the charts detailed in the table were not issued with the
book. They were not ready, and the table stands as an eloquent indicator
of the hurry in which the publication was performed. The first volume of
the Voyage de Decouvertes contains numerous marginal references to charts
not contained in the atlas issued with it. Readers of the book must have
been puzzled by these references,* (* As the present writer was when he
began to study the subject closely, and as the Quarterly reviewer was in
1810. He said: "The atlas is of quarto size; it contains not a single
chart nor any sketch or plan of a coast, island, bay, or harbour, though
frequent references are made to such in the margin of the printed volume"
(page 60). The reviewer should have said, "except the two cartes
generales" described on a previous page.) when they turned to the atlas
and found no charts corresponding with them. Freycinet's complete folio
volume of charts was not published till 1812, five years after the issue
of the book which they were necessary to explain. Flinders had then been
released; but it is significant that he was held in the clutches of
General Decaen, despite constant demands for his liberation, until the
preparation of the French charts was sufficiently advanced to make it
impossible for his own to be issued until theirs had been placed before
the world.

Flinders, generous in his judgments of other men even when smarting under
great grievances, put forth an excuse for Peron, suggesting that he had
acted under pressure. "How, then, came M. Peron to advance what was so
contrary to truth?" he wrote. "Was he a man destitute of all principle?
My answer is, that I believe his candour to have been equal to his
acknowledged abilities, and that what he wrote was from overruling
authority, and smote him to the heart. He did not live to finish the
second volume."

This would be an acceptable way of disposing of the question if we could
reasonably accept the explanation. But can we? Freycinet denied that any
pressure was exerted. Those who knew Peron's character, he wrote,* (*
Voyage de Decouvertes 2 page 21.) were aware that he would have refused
to do anything with which his conscience could reproach him. He was so
able and zealous a man of science, that we should like to believe that of
him. justice demands that we should give full weight to every favourable
factor in the case as affecting him. Flinders was a British naval
officer, and naval men at that period were disposed to see the hand of
Napoleon in every bit of mischief. But the "pressure" theory does not
sustain examination.

The task thrust upon Peron in the writing of the historical narrative of
the voyage was one for which he had not prepared himself, and which did
not properly pertain to him. The death of Baudin, whose work this would
naturally have been, compelled the naturalist to become historian. He had
not kept the log, and it may be reasonably assumed that he had not
concerned himself in a particular degree with those events of which he
would have made careful notes had it been intended from the beginning
that he should be the official recorder. He had applied himself with
passionate energy to the collection and classification of zoological
specimens. This was his special vocation, and he pursued it worthily. It
is probably safe to say that no expedition, French or English, that ever
came down to Australasian waters, added so much that was new to the
world's scientific knowledge, or accumulated so much material, as did
this one whose chief naturalist was Francois Peron. When it is added that
two of the greatest figures in British scientific history, Darwin and
Huxley, were among the workers in this fruitful field, it will be
admitted that the acknowledgment is not made in any niggard spirit. But
we are now concerned with Peron as historian of what related to Terre
Naploeon and the surrounding circumstances. Here his statements have been
shown to be unreliable. It is probable that he wrote largely from memory;
almost certainly from insufficient data. Further, he was weak and ill
when engaged upon the book. The hardships and unhealthy conditions of the
voyage had undermined his constitution. One would conclude from his style
of writing that he was by temperament excitable and easily subject to
depression. A zealous savant, to whom fishes and birds, beetles and
butterflies, were the precious things of the earth, and for whom the
discovery of a new species was as great a source of joy as a glorious
victory was to his imperial master, Peron appeals to us as a pathetic
figure whom one would rather screen from blame than otherwise. He
suffered severely, and did his final work under the difficulty of
breaking health. He died in 1810, before his second volume was ready for

Freycinet wrote a series of notes by way of preface to volumes 2 and 3,
in attempted justification of the Terre Napoleon maps.* (* The second
volume of the Voyage de Decouvertes was published--out of its due
order--in 1816, the third in 1815.) He was put on the defensive because
"the audacious attempt which was made in the first volume of this work,
to rob Captain Flinders of the well-earned merit of his nautical labours
and discoveries, while he was basely and barbarously kept in prison in a
French colony, was regarded with becoming indignation throughout Europe,
and with shame by the better part of the French nation."* (* Quarterly
Review volume 17 (1817) page 229.) That that is a fair description of the
state of feeling among people concerned with the advancement of
knowledge, is beyond question; and the French above all, with their love
of enterprise, their sentiment of honour, their eager applause of high
achievement, their chivalrous sense of justice, and their quick sympathy
with suffering wrongly inflicted and bravely borne, would have no taste
for laurels plucked in their name from the brow of him who was entitled
to wear them. Thoroughly repugnant to French intellect and feeling was
conduct of this description. National animosities were more bitter at
this period than they have ever been at any other time, but science knows
no nationality. Even when the two governments had ceased to have
relations with each other, we still find English and French men of
science communicating on friendly terms; and Napoleon himself was willing
to grant the requests of an English savant while English arms and English
diplomacy were at furious war with him. Thus Sir Joseph Banks, who was a
corresponding member of the Institute of France, could write in 1805, "I
have obtained the release of five persons from the gracious condescension
of the Emperor, the only five, I believe, that have been regularly
discharged from their parole."

Freycinet, then, had to defend his charts. But there never was a more
complete example of the remark that "qui s'excuse s'accuse." He argued
that when Le Geographe cruised along the coasts discovered by Flinders,
there was no published work in which they were described, therefore the
French were justified in applying their own names. But this plea ignored
the fact that if the coasts were not charted in any work published before
1807, they had been, to the full knowledge of the French officers,
charted by Flinders, whose work would have been published earlier if he
had not been forcibly detained. Again he argued* (* Preface to volume 3.)
that, inasmuch as "jamais Peron ni moi"--where Freycinet assumed part of
the responsibility--knew of the work done by Flinders until his book was
published, the work of the French was truly one of discovery; and as to
the names given by the English navigator, "it is certain that we could
not employ them without knowing them." But it was not true that
Freycinet, Peron, or Baudin was unaware of the discoveries made by
Flinders. Even were there not his specific statement that he explained
his discoveries and showed one of his charts to illustrate them, it would
be incredible that while the French and English ships lay together for
some weeks at Port Jackson, with tents erected on the same piece of
ground, the officers frequently meeting on friendly terms, Freycinet and
Peron should not have learnt what the Investigator had been doing. Both
the French authors are individually mentioned by Flinders as having been
present on one or other of these occasions, and Freycinet does not deny
the statement. Further, Captain Hamelin reported to the French
Government, in 1803, that Flinders had traced the coast from the Leeuwin
to Encounter Bay, and had discovered a large and beautiful island which
he had named "L'Ile des Kangaroux."* (* Moniteur, 27 Thermidor,
Revolutionary Year 11.)

It is true that the French were not acquainted with Flinders' names,
except in the one case of Kangaroo Island. He told Baudin what name he
had given in that case. Nevertheless they ignored it, and called the
island Ile Decres. But even when they did know of the names given to
features of the coast by a previous English navigator, Peron and
Freycinet disregarded them. Grant's Narrative of the Voyage of the Lady
Nelson was published, together with his eye-chart of the coast from Cape
Banks to Wilson's Promontory, in 1803. Flinders states positively that
Grant's "discoveries were known to M. Peron and the French expedition in
1802";* (* Voyage 1 201.) as indeed we might well suppose, for Grant was
not the man to allow any one with whom he came in contact to remain
unaware of his achievements, and he was in Sydney just before the French
arrived there. They would hear of him from many people. Yet Grant's
names, inscribed in plain print on his published chart, were all ignored
on the Terre Napoleon charts--his Cape Nelson becoming Cap Montaigne; his
Cape Otway, Cap Desaix; his Cape Schanck, Cap Richelieu; and so forth.

The contention that the south coast exploration of the French was
"entirely a work of discovery,"* (* Freycinet, 2 page 23.) although they
were forestalled in it by Flinders and Grant, is neither true nor
sensible. If it could be held that the voyage of a vessel sailing without
a chart or a pilot along a coast previously unknown to its officers was
"entirely a work of discovery," then a ship that should sail under such
conditions along any piece of coast--say from Boulogne to La Hague--would
accomplish "a work of discovery." Discovery is a matter of priority, or
the word is meaningless.

Freycinet's notes nowhere meet the gravest feature of the case--the
prolongation of the imprisonment of Flinders until the French could
complete their own charts for publication. The talk about not knowing
what Flinders' names were, the affected ignorance of his prior claims,
were crudely disingenuous. Freycinet knew perfectly where Flinders was,
and why his charts were not issued. The Moniteur contained several
references to his case. Sir Joseph Banks repeatedly pressed leading
members of the Institute to lend their influence to secure his
liberation. But Freycinet, who had shared in the generous hospitality of
the British governor in Sydney--extended at a time when the French crews
were sorely stricken--and should have been moved by gratitude, to say
nothing of justice, to help in undoing an act of wrong to a
fellow-navigator, does not seem to have taken the slightest step in this
direction, nor does he in any of his writings express any regret
concerning the unhappy fate that overtook the English captain.

The claim made in behalf of Baudin's expedition can best be stated in the
language of Peron. Dentrecasteaux, he wrote, not having advanced beyond
the islands of St. Peter and St. Francis, which form the extremity of
Nuyts Land, and the English not having carried their researches farther
than Westernport, "it follows that all the portion between the
last-mentioned port and Nuyts Land was unknown at the time when we
arrived on these shores." Peron's words were not candid. It is true that
part of the shores in question were unknown when Baudin's ships
"arrived." They "arrived" off Cape Leeuwin in May 1801, before Flinders
left England, though not before Grant had discovered his stretch of
coast. (Grant reached Sydney, having roughly traced the coast from Cape
Banks to Cape Schanck, on December 16, 1800.) If, however, Peron meant to
convey that the coasts were unknown when Baudin's ships actually sailed
along them, he stated what was not the case. Let us hear Flinders in
reply. "M. Peron should not have said that the south coast from
Westernport to Nuyts Land was then unknown, but that it was unknown to
them, for Captain Grant, of the Lady Nelson, had discovered the eastern
part from Westernport to the longitude 140 degrees 14 minutes in the year
1800, before the French ships sailed from Europe, and on the west I had
explored the coast and islands from Nuyts Land to Cape Jervis in 138
degrees 10 minutes." In other words, Grant's eye-chart connected up the
coast between the extremity of George Bass's exploration, Westernport,
and Cape Banks to the east, while Flinders had traversed the coast
between Nuyts Land and Encounter Bay to the west, leaving a gap of only
about fifty leagues of sandy shore, upon which there is "neither river,
inlet, or place of shelter," that was actually discovered by Baudin.
Flinders not only admitted that the French had discovered this
particularly barren and uninteresting stretch of land, but marked it upon
his charts* (* Cf. plate 4 in Flinders' Atlas, for example.) as
"discovered by Captain Baudin, 1802." The French on their charts,
however, made not the slightest reference to the discoveries of either
Flinders or Grant.

The true Terre Napoleon, therefore, if the name were to survive at all,
would be from a point north-west of Cape Banks in the state of South
Australia, to the mouth of the river Murray in Encounter Bay. The names
marked on a modern map indicate the sort of country that it is in the
main. Chinaman's Wells, M'Grath's Flat, Salt Creek, Martin's Washpool,
Jim Crow's Flat, and Tilley's Swamp are examples. They are not
noble-sounding designations to inscribe at the back of coasts once
dignified by the name of the greatest figure in modern history. It is
rather to be regretted that the name Terre Napoleon has slipped off
modern maps. It is historically interesting. When Eric the Red, as the
Saga tells us, discovered Greenland, he so called it because "men would
be the more readily persuaded thither if the land had a good name." Most
will agree that Terre Napoleon sounds a bit better than Pipe Clay Plain
or Willow Swamp, which are other choice flowers in the same garden.* (*
These "virginal chaste names" are taken from the map of South Australia,
by the Surveyor-General of that State, 1892.)

There is no evidence to warrant the belief that Napoleon had anything
whatever to do with affixing his name to the territory to which it was
applied, or with the nomenclature of the features of the coast. Nor would
there be anything remarkable in the use of the name Terre Napoleon, if
the French had really discovered the region so described. In every part
of the world there are lands named after the rulers of the nations to
which the discoverers or founders belonged. Raleigh named Virginia "from
the maiden Queen"; the two Carolinas preserve the name of the amorous
monarch who granted the original charter of colonisation "out of a Pious
and good intention for ye propogacion of ye Christian faith amongst ye
Barbarous and Ignorant Indians, ye Inlargement of his Empire and
Dominions, and Inriching of his Subjects"; and two states of Australia
commemorate by their names the great Queen who occupied the British
throne when they were founded. There would have been nothing unusual or
improper in the action of the French in styling the country from Wilson's
Promontory to Cape Adieu "Terre Napoleon," except that they did not
discover it. What they did excites a feeling akin to derision, because it
bore the character of "jumping a claim," to use an Australian mining

Nor is it to be inferred that affixing the name was intended to assert
possession. An examination of the large chart of Australia shows that the
whole of the coast-line, except this particular stretch, was previously
named. There was Terre de Nuyts on the south-west; Terre de Leeuwin,
Terre d'Endrels, Terre d'Endracht were on the west; Terre de Witt on the
north-west; Terre d'Arnheim and Terre de Carpentarie on the north. New
South Wales was marked as occupying the whole of the east. The styling of
the freshly discovered south Terre Napoleon was a mere piece of
courtiership. If Napoleon had ever been strong enough to strike a blow at
the British in Australia, the probabilities are that he would have
endeavoured to oust them from New South Wales, and would not have
troubled himself very much about the coasts that were named after him. It
was his way to strike at the heart of his enemy, and the heart of British
settlement in Australia was located at Port Jackson.

It has been represented in one of the best books in English on the
Napoleonic period,* (* Dr. Holland Rose's Life of Napoleon 1 381.) that
"the names given by Flinders on the coasts of Western and South
Australia, have been retained owing to the priority of his investigation,
but the French names have been kept up on the coast between the mouth of
the Murray and Bass Straits for the same reason." That statement,
however, is very much too wide. Capes Patton, Otway, Nelson, Bridgewater,
Northumberland and Banks, Portland Bay and Julia Percy Island, all lie
between the points mentioned, and all of them were named by Grant, who
first discovered them and marked them on his chart. None of the French
names is properly in present employment east of Cape Buffon; for their
Cap Boufflers, which is marked on a few maps, is really the Cape Banks of
Grant. The only names freshly applied by Baudin to natural features of
the mainland on the Terre Napoleon charts, and which are in current use,
are Cape Buffon, Cape Lannes, Rivoli Bay, Cape Jaffa, Cape Rabelais, Cape
Dombey, Guichen Bay, Cape Bernoulli, Lacepede Bay, and Cape Morard de
Galles. Some or other of these names may be found, in some order, on some
modern map, but the sequence is variable, and they are not all to be
found on any single map with which the author is acquainted; because
there are more names than there are natural capes and bays to which they
can apply. The remainder of the French names between Lacepede Bay and
Cape Jervis, and most of those in the more easterly section, are not
marked on any current map, because in some instances they do not
represent features of the coast which are sufficiently pronounced to
require names, whilst in other cases they are applied to islands, capes,
and bays that do not exist.* (* The difficulty of identifying the
features marked on the Terre Napoleon charts is made clear by comparing
them with a few good modern maps. Thus, taking them from south-east to
north-west, they appear on the French charts in the following order: 1,
Cap Buffon; 2, Cap Lannes; 3, Baie de Rivoli; 4, Cap de Jaffa; 5, Cap
Rabelais; 6, Cap Dombey; 7, Baie de Guichen; 8, Cap Bernoulli; 9, Baie
Lacepede; 10, Cap Morard de Galles; 11, Cap Fermat; 12, Cap Monge 13, Cap
Caffarelli; 14, Cap Villars; 15, Baie Mollien; 16, Cap Mollien 17, Baie
Cretet; 18, Cap Cretet; 19, Iles Decaen; 20, Cap Decaen; 21, Cap
Montelivet. On the large Continental map constructed by the Department of
Lands and Survey, State of Victoria, 1879, the order of the names
included is as follows: 1, Buffon; 2, Rivoli; 3, Lannes; 4, Guichen; 5,
Jaffa; 6, Lacepede. Rabelais, Dombey, Bernoulli, and the rest are
omitted, the draftsman evidently being unable to find features to which
to apply them. On the large map compiled in the office of the
Surveyor-General, State of South Australia, 1892, the order of the names
is: 1, Buffon; 2, Rivoli; 3, Rabelais; 4, Lannes; 5, Dombey; 6, Guichen;
7, Jaffa; 8, Lacepede. On the excellent map in M'Lean's New Atlas of
Australia, 1886, we find: 1, Buffon; 2, Rivoli; 3, Lannes; 4, Guichen; 5,
Jaffa; 6, Lacepede. Flinders, on his separate chart of this part of the
coast, found features for the names of Buffon, Lannes, Rivoli, and
Bernoulli, but left out Rabelais, Dombey, Guichen, and Lacepede. In no
case is the cape or bay on the Terre Napoleon chart of this part of the
coast a tolerably good representation of an actuality.) Where are Cap
Monge, Cap Caffarelli, Cap Mollien, Cap du Mont St. Bernard, Ile
Latrelle, or Baie Descartes? They are not to be found. Freycinet* (*
Preface to the 1824 edition of the Voyage de Decouvertes page 13, note.)
complained that Flinders, on his charts, had erroneously applied the
French names between Cap Monge and Cap Lannes. It was a singular
complaint to make, seeing that Flinders gave the French full credit for
their discoveries, whilst they omitted all reference to his work on their
charts. But Flinders' difficulty was that of all later map-makers: he
could not find all the places to which Baudin had given names. He did his
best; but it is evidently easier to sprinkle a coast-line with the
contents of a biographical dictionary, than to fit all the names in.

The French cartography of the portions of the coast eastward of the two
gulfs was so badly done, in fact, that many of the features indicated on
the charts are mere geographical Mrs. Harrises--there "ain't no sich"
places. The coast was not surveyed at all, but was sketched roughly,
inaccurately, and out of scale; so that even the sandy stretch now known
as the Coorong, which is about as featureless as a railway embankment,
was fitted with names and drawn with corrugations as though it were as
jagged as a gigantic saw. Our respect for such names as Montesquieu and
Descartes causes us to regret that they should have been wasted on a cape
and a bay that geography knows not; and our abiding interest in the
sinister genius of Talleyrand fosters the wish that his patronymic had
been reserved for some other feature than the curve of the coast which
holds "the Rip" of Port Phillip, though in one sense he who was so wont
to "fish in troubled waters" is not inaptly associated with that boil of

(* "Loud-voiced and reckless as the wild tide-race
That whips our harbour mouth,"

wrote Mr. Rudyard Kipling ("Song of the English") of the people of
Melbourne. It is believed that he meant to be complimentary.)

The south and west of Kangaroo Island were, however, first charted by
Baudin, and his names survive there. Flinders had marked these shores
with a dotted line on his chart, to signify that he had not surveyed
them. He intended to complete this bit of work on his return, but he was
"caught in the clutch of circumstance," and was never permitted to
return. Such names as Cape Borda, Cape Linois, Maupertuis Bay, Cape
Gautheaume, Bougainville Bay, and a few others, preserve the memory of
the French expedition on Kangaroo Island. A rock, known as Frenchman's
Rock, upon which a record of the visit was cut, also survives there.

A few months after the publication of the Terre Napoleon charts in 1807,
the truth about the matter became known. Sir Joseph Banks, who had been
kept well informed by Flinders about the work which he had performed, and
who had done all that was possible to obtain his release from Mauritius,
was influential in scientific circles throughout Europe. Fortunately, he
had ample material at his disposal. Flinders had sent home some finished
charts from Sydney, and during his imprisonment he wrote up a manuscript
journal which he succeeded in getting conveyed to England. It was this
manuscript which the Admiralty permitted to be perused by the writer of
the powerful Quarterly Review article of August 1810. The feeling of
indignation evoked by the treatment which the navigator received was
intensified when the publication of his Voyage and his charts in 1814
showed the measure of his shining merits--his thoroughness, his accuracy,
his diligence, the beauty of his drawings, the vast extent of the
entirely new work which he had done, and the manliness, gentleness,
courage, and fairness of his personal character.

In addition to the discredit, of which he had to bear his full share,
Freycinet was involved in perplexities of another kind. It was a
convenient piece of flattery to name the two great gulfs after Napoleon
and Josephine when they were Emperor and Empress; but the courtier-like
compliment was embarrassing when Josephine was supplanted by Marie
Louise, and it became offensive when Napoleon himself was overthrown and
a Bourbon once more occupied the throne of France. Many of the other
names, too, were those of men no longer in favour. Yet the earlier
volumes of the Voyage de Decouvertes had referred in the text to the
names on the French charts as though they formed a final system of
nomenclature. What was poor Freycinet to do in completing the work? Here,
indeed, was a sailor hoist to his own yard-arm with his own halyard. The
work could not be dropped, since faith had to be kept with purchasers. In
the event, the old names were employed in the text of the completed book,
but a fresh atlas was issued (1817) with the name Terre Napoleon wiped
off the principal chart, most of the names changed to those given by
Flinders and Grant, and a neat note in the corner taking the place of the
former eagle--which was moulting; no longer the screaming fowl it used to
be--announcing that "this map of New Holland is an exact reduction of
that contained in the first edition."* (* "Cette carte de la
Nouvelle-Hollande est une reduction exacte de celle contenue dans la
premiere edition du Voyage aux Terres Australes.") The announcement was
not quite true. It was not "une reduction exacte." The imperial bird had
flown, and the names had undergone systematic revision. The Bonaparte
family were pitilessly evicted. It was a new and smaller map, with a new
allocation of names. Freycinet's name appeared upon it, and he probably
wrote the inscription in the corner.


Assertions commonly made as to French plagiarism of Flinders' charts.
Lack of evidence to support the charges.
General Decaen and his career.
The facts as to Flinders' charts.
The sealed trunks.
The third log-book and its contents; detention of it by Decaen, and the
reasons for his conduct.
Restoration of Flinders' papers, except the log-book and despatches.
Do Freycinet's charts show evidence of the use of Flinders' material?
How did the French obtain their chart of Port Phillip?
Peron's report to Decaen as to British intentions in the Pacific and
Indian Oceans, and the effect on his mind.
Liberation of Flinders.
Capture of Mauritius by the British.
English naval officers and the governor.
Later career of Decaen.

Flinders, in the decrepit little Cumberland, put into Port Louis,
Mauritius, on December 16, 1803. He was not permitted to sail out again
till July 1810; and then he was a broken man, smitten with diseases, the
painful product of exposure, shipwreck, confinement in a tropical
climate, anxiety, and bitter years of heart-sickness and weary
disappointment; yet a brave man still, with some hope nobly burning in
the true hero's heart of him; but with less vitality than hope, so that
he could do no more than write his big book of travel, and then lie down
to die.

Many loose statements have been written about the use which the French
made of Flinders' charts while he was held in captivity. It has been too
often taken for granted that the evidence of plagiarism is beyond
dispute. Not only popular writers, but historians with claims to be
considered scientific, are substantially in agreement on this point. Two
examples will indicate what is meant. Messrs. Becke and Jeffery, in their
Naval Pioneers of Australia (page 216), assert that "among other
indignities he suffered, he found that the charts taken from him by
Decaen had been appropriated to Baudin's exploring expedition." Again, to
take a work appealing to a different section of readers, the Cambridge
Modern History also charges the French with "the use of his papers to
appropriate for their ships the credit of his discoveries."* (* Volume 9
page 739 (Professor Egerton). Two more examples may be cited. Thus,
Laurie, Story of Australasia (1896) page 86. "He found that his journals
and charts had been stolen by the French governor of the Mauritius and
transferred to Paris, where the fullest advantage was taken of them by M.
Peron." Again, Jose, Australasia (1901) page 21: "His maps were taken to
France to be published there with French names as the work of French

The charge is, it will be observed, that not only did the French governor
of Mauritius imprison the English navigator despite his passport,
detaining him years after the other members of the Cumberland's company
had been liberated, but that Flinders' charts and papers were improperly
used in the preparation of the history of Baudin's expedition. Indeed,
the accusation is equivalent to one of garrotting: that General Decaen
seized and bound his victim, robbed him, and enabled Freycinet and Peron
to use his work as their own.

So widely has this view been diffused, that probably few will be prepared
for the assurance that there is no evidence to support it. On the
contrary, as will be shown, neither Peron nor Freycinet ever saw any
chart or journal taken from Flinders. Use was made, it is believed, of
one British chart which may possibly have been his--that embodying a
drawing of Port Phillip--but reasons will be given for the opinion that
this, whether it was Flinders' chart or Murray's, was seen by the French
before Baudin's ships left Sydney, and was certainly not copied at

Before proving these statements, it will be convenient to make the reader
acquainted with the Captain-General or Military-Governor of Mauritius,
Charles Decaen. He was a rough, dogged, somewhat brutal type of soldier,
who had attained to eminence during the revolutionary wars. Born at Caen
in Normandy in 1769, he served during his youth for three years in the
artillery, and then entered a lawyer's office in his native town; but
during the wars of the Revolution, when France was pressed by enemies on
all sides, he threw aside quills and parchments, and, in his twenty-third
year, entered upon his strenuous fighting career. Thenceforth, until
after the signing of the Treaty of Luneville in 1801, he was almost
constantly engaged in military operations. He had risen from the ranks,
and won commendation for stubborn valour from such commanders as Desaix,
Kleber, Hoche, Westermann, and Moreau. He participated in the cruel war
of La Vendee, won fresh laurels during the campaign of the Rhine (1796),
and fought with a furious lust for battle under the noble Moreau at
Hohenlinden. By that time (1800) he had become a general of division, and
on the eve of the battle, when he brought up his force and made his
appearance at a council of war, Moreau greeted him with the flattering
remark, "Ah! here is Decaen; the battle will be ours to-morrow." He was
recognised as a strong-willed general, not brilliant, but very
determined, and as also a thoroughly capable and honest administrator.
Napoleon, in 1803, selected him for Indian service, and stationed him at
the Isle of France (Mauritius), in the hope that if all went well a heavy
blow might some day be struck at British power in India. Decaen was not a
courtier, nor a scholar, nor a man of sentiment, but a plain, coarse,
downright soldier; a true Norman, and a thorough son of the Revolution.
He was not the kind of man to be interested in navigation, discovery, or
the expansion of human knowledge; and appeals made to him on these
grounds on behalf of Flinders were futile. Yet we must do justice to the
admirable side of Decaen's character, by observing that he bore a
reputation for generosity among his fellow-soldiers; and he was a very
efficient and economical governor, maintaining a reputation for probity
that did not distinguish too many of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic
generals. Flinders, just in his opinion even of an enemy, wrote to Sir
Joseph Banks that Decaen bore among the people of the island "the
character of having a good heart, though too hasty and violent." It is
pleasant to find him writing thus of the man who had wronged him, at a
time when he had good reason for feeling bitter; and we certainly need
not think worse of Decaen than did the man who suffered most from the
general's callous insensibility.

Now, the clear facts with regard to the taking from Flinders of his
charts, papers, log-books, and journals are these. On December 17, the
day after his arrival at the island, it was signified to him that the
governor intended to detain him. All his charts and journals relating to
the voyage, and the letters and official packets which he was carrying to
England from Sydney, were put in a trunk, which was sealed by Flinders at
the desire of the French officers who were sent by Decaen to arrest him.
He signed a paper certifying that all the "charts, journals, and papers
of the voyage" had been thus placed in the trunk.* (* Flinders, Voyage 2
361.) On the following day (Sunday, December 18) he was informed that the
governor wished to have extracts made from his journals, showing the
causes which had compelled him to quit the Investigator, for which ship
and for no other, according to Decaen's contention, the passport had been
granted. He also wished to elicit from the journals evidence of the
reasons which had induced Flinders to stop at Mauritius, instead of
sailing for the Cape of Good Hope. The officers explained that General
Decaen considered it to be necessary to have these extracts for
transmission to the French Government, "to justify himself for granting
that assistance to the Cumberland which had been ordered for the
Investigator." So far he had not, as a fact, granted any assistance to
the Cumberland; for the imprisonment of her commander and crew can hardly
be called "assistance." But as Flinders was convinced that an examination
of his latest log-book would manifest his bona fides, and assure both the
governor and the French Government that he was no spy, as Decaen accused
him of being, he broke the seal of the trunk, and took out "the third
volume of my rough log-book, which contained the whole of what they
desired to know, and pointing out the parts in question to the secretary,
told him to make such extracts as should be thought requisite."* (*
Flinders, Voyage 2 364.) All the other papers and books were at once
returned to the trunk, and sealed as before.

The third log-book was the only document pertaining to Flinders'
discoveries which Decaen ever had in his possession. It was never
returned. The rightful owner never saw it again. It has never since been
produced. Flinders applied for it repeatedly. On the very day before he
was liberated, he made a final demand for it. Mr. Hope, the British
commissary for the exchange of prisoners, made a formal official
application for it in 1810, but met with "a positive refusal both of the
book and of permission to take a copy of it."* (* Hope's report to the
Admiralty, October 25, 1810 (Historical Records of New South Wales 7
435).) In 1811, after Flinders reached England, the Admiralty, at his
instance, requested the French Government to insist upon its restoration.
At the end of his book, published 1814, Flinders earnestly protested
against Decaen's continued detention of it. But it was not restored.

This book contained Flinders' "Journal of transactions and observations
on board the Investigator, the Porpoise, the Hope cutter, and Cumberland
schooner," for the preceding six months.* (* Flinders, Voyage 2 378 and
463.) There was therefore nothing in it which could have been of any use
in relation to the so-called Terre Napoleon. The log-book embodying
Flinders' observations on those coasts pertained to a period before the
six months just mentioned, and was never seen by Decaen, nor did he see
any of Flinders' charts whatever.

Towards the end of December the whole of the remaining books and papers
of Flinders, even including his family letters, were, in his presence,
collected from the ship by M. Bonnefoy, an interpreter, and Colonel
Monistrol, Decaen's secretary--who "acted throughout with much
politeness, apologising for what they were obliged by their orders to
execute"--and sealed up in another trunk.* (* Ibid 2 367.) Later in the
same month (December 26), Flinders, wishing to occupy his time in
confinement by proceeding with his work, wrote to the governor,
requesting that he might have his printed volumes, and two or three
charts and manuscript books, for the purpose of finishing his chart of
the Gulf of Carpentaria, adding in explanation that some of his papers
were lost in the wreck of the Porpoise, and he wished to finish the work
from memory, with the aid of the remaining materials, before the details
faded from his recollection. Decaen acceded to his request, and Flinders
took out two log-books, such charts as were necessary, all his private
letters, and his journals of bearings and astronomical observations. He
also took out his naval signal-book, which he destroyed, lest it should
be seen by any French officer. He gave a receipt for the documents, and
the remainder were once more locked up in the trunk, which was again
sealed by Flinders.* (* Voyage 2 378.) The papers so obtained were the
"greatest part"* (* Flinders, letter to Governor King, August 1804, and
letter to Banks, July 12. Historical Records of New South Wales 4 411 and
396.) of his books and charts, and the possession of them, enabling
Flinders to devote his energies to the work he loved, relieved the
depression which imprisonment and illness cast upon his active brain and

In February of the following year Flinders made another application for
more books and papers, consisting of the greater part of his "original
fair charts,"* (* Voyage 2 384.) for the purpose of making an abridgment
of his discoveries upon a single sheet. The governor was by this time
very angry with his captive; the more so, probably, as he was conscious
of the inadequacy of the reasons for detaining him. But the demeanour of
the English captain did not please him either. Flinders, maintaining the
dignity of his uniform, had not assumed a humble mien, and had even
refused an invitation to dine with the general unless he could attend,
not as a prisoner, but as an officer free and unsuspect. If Decaen really
believed him to be a spy, why did he invite him? The governor, however,
was not now in a mood to oblige his prisoner, and in response to his
application for more papers, curtly replied that he would attend to the
request when freed from more pressing business. Flinders in March urged
Colonel Monistrol to intercede; complained in May that the manuscripts
were still withheld; and, being unable to make any impression on the
obdurate Decaen, completed his map with the aid of another journal kept
by Mr. Akin, the master of the Investigator, who was a fellow-prisoner
until May 1805.

These remaining documents were not restored till August 1807, when
Flinders was invited to go to Port Louis from the house in the country
where part of his imprisonment was spent, and take possession of the
trunk. He found that rats had eaten their way into it, and had made great
havoc among his papers, totally destroying some. But the seals were
unbroken, and Flinders gave a receipt for the contents, acknowledging
that the most important documents had happily escaped the rats.* (*
Voyage 2 462.) He was an observant man, and if he had had any suspicion
that the charts had been tampered with, would have promptly said so.
There is not, however, the faintest reason for believing that the trunk
had been opened between December 1803, when Flinders was permitted to
take out the "greatest part" of his important papers, and August 1807,
when the remainder were restored to him. The only missing documents were
the few which the rats had eaten, the third log-book, which Decaen
refused to give up, and two packets of official despatches which the
Cumberland was carrying from Sydney to England, and which Colonel
Monistrol informed him had been "long ago disposed of." The Colonel
"supposed that something in them had contributed to my imprisonment."
They had been "disposed of" by being sent to Paris for the perusal of
Napoleon's Government.

Why, however, did Decaen refuse permission to Flinders to have the last
of his papers till the year 1807? Why had he willingly permitted him to
take some of them in December 1803, but declined to let him have any more
till nearly four years later? A comparison of dates is instructive on
this point. As has already been said, the first volume of Peron's Voyage
de Decouvertes aux Terres Australes, and the first edition of the atlas
containing two of Freycinet's charts, were published in 1807. Making all
allowances for the obstinate character of Decaen, it is most significant
that the remainder of Flinders' charts and papers were kept from him
until the very time when Freycinet was ready to publish the first and
hurried edition of his atlas. It is impossible to resist the conclusion
that the governor was acting under influences exerted from Paris, private
if not official, in refusing the navigator access to the material which
it was believed was essential to the completion of the charts that would
demonstrate his discoveries, until the French officer could hurry out a
makeshift atlas and fictitious claims could be based upon it.

This conduct was reprehensible enough, but, it must be insisted, there is
no ground whatever for the too frequently made assertion that Flinders'
charts were surreptitiously copied or actually stolen--for the loose
manner in which the affair has been related in some books renders
doubtful which of the two accusations the authors desired to make.* (*
Blair, Cyclopaedia of Australasia page 131, actually says that Baudin,
"having taken copies of Flinders' charts, sailed for France, where he
published a book and received great applause from the French nation, who
called him the greatest discoverer of the present century."
Spirit-writing one has heard of, but not even the Psychical Research
Society has recorded the case of a dead man copying hydrographical
charts. A similar disregard of the fact that Baudin died before the
return of his ships occurs in J.E. Tenison Woods' History of Exploration
in Australia (1865) volume 1 page 174, where we are informed that
Flinders was detained in Mauritius, because "at that time the Emperor
Napoleon was obliging Admiral Baudin [sic] to usurp the glory of his
discoveries"; a case of post-mortem promotion.) Not only is there no
evidence to support any such charge, but Flinders himself never accused
Decaen of making an improper use of the papers in the trunk, nor did he
ever allege that the two charts contained in the French atlas of 1807, or
those in Freycinet's folio atlas of 1812--which he probably saw before
his death in July 1814--were founded upon or owed anything to his
drawings. He simply set forth the facts with his habitual exactness and
fairness; and where Flinders was just, there is surely no warrant for
others to perpetuate an accusation which originated in a period of
intense national hatred and jealousy, and bears its birth-mark upon it.

A critical examination of Freycinet's charts is alone sufficient to
shatter the opinion that he utilised the drawings of the English
navigator. Had he even seen them, his own work would have been more
accurate than it was, and his large chart of New Holland would have been
more complete. It has already been shown that the French chart of the
so-called Terre Napoleon coasts was in large measure defective, many
capes, islands, and bays being represented that have no existence in
fact, and a large portion of the outline being crudely and erroneously
drawn. Not only so, but if Freycinet had had copies of Flinders' charts
before him, use would certainly have been made of them to give greater
completeness to the eastern and north-western shores. Flinders, in his
last voyage in the Investigator, had made important discoveries on the
Queensland coast and in the Gulf of Carpentaria. He had discovered, for
instance, Port Bowen and Port Curtis, which had been missed by Cook, had
given greater definiteness to the islands near the southern end of the
Great Barrier Reef, and had made a dangerous acquaintance with the Reef
itself, discovering one narrow alley through it which is marked on modern
maps as Flinders' Passage. In the Gulf of Carpentaria he had also done
some entirely original work. He had shown, for example, that Cape Van
Diemen, represented as a projection from the mainland on all previous
maps, was really part of an island, which he named Mornington Isle.
Freycinet's charts reveal not the faintest trace of the fresh discoveries
which Flinders had achieved around east and north-east Australia, nor do
they in any particular indicate that their manifold serious imperfections
had been corrected by reference to Flinders' superb charts. In short, the
French work, though beautifully engraved and printed, was, in a
geographical sense, for the most part too poor to justify the suspicion
that Freycinet received aid from the drawings of the persevering captain
of the Investigator.

The circumstances attending the imprisonment of Flinders, and the
precipitate haste with which Freycinet's work was pushed forward,
undoubtedly furnished prima facie justification for the suspicion,
indignantly voiced by contemporary English writers, and which has been
hardened into a direct accusation since, that an act of plagiarism was
committed, dishonest in itself, and doubly guilty from the circumstances
in which it was performed. The Quarterly reviewer of 1817* pointed out
that the few charts in Freycinet's atlas "ARE VERY LIKE THOSE OF CAPTAIN
229 to 230; the italics are the reviewer's. The plagiarism legend--for
such it is--originated with this Quarterly article. The earliest
biographer of Flinders, in the Naval Chronicle 32 page 177, wrote very
strongly of General Decaen, considering that he was "worthy of his
Corsican master," and that his name "will be consigned to infamy as long
as mankind shall consider it honourable to promote science and civilised
to practise hospitality," but alleged no improper use of the charts. C.A.
Walckenaer, who wrote the excellent life of Flinders in the Biographie
Universelle, published in 1856, said that the French Government was
"inexcusable d'avoir retenu Flinders en captivite," but denied that his
charts were improperly used, and promised that when he came to write the
life of Peron in a succeeding volume, he would by an analysis of the
evidence refute the story. But Walckenaer died in 1852, before his
Flinders article was published, and the author of the article on Peron
did not carry out his predecessor's undertaking. It is to be presumed
that Walckenaer would have exhibited the facts set out above. Alfred de
Lacaze, in his article on Flinders in the Nouvelle Biographie Generale 17
932, wrote that the excuses given for the imprisonment of Flinders formed
"pauvres pretextes"; but declared that the seals put on Flinders' papers
in Mauritius were "loyalement respecte pendant les six ans que dura la
captivite du navigateur anglais." That was true. It is a pleasure to
acknowledge that all the references to Flinders which the author has seen
in French works unanimously and strongly condemn the treatment of him,
and do ample justice to his splendid qualities.) They are very like in
one respect, namely, in the representation of Spencer's and St. Vincent's
Gulfs and Kangaroo Island. In other particulars, at all events as far as
relates to the Terre Napoleon coasts, the French charts are quite unlike
those of Flinders. But contemporaries--knowing that Flinders' charts had
been taken from him by Decaen, and that he had been held in captivity
until the French could finish their work, and then, comparing his charts
with Freycinet's, finding that parts of the coasts discovered by the
English captain were well represented on the French charts, while other
parts of the outline of Terra Australis were badly done or
inadequate--not unnaturally drew the inference that the well-drawn
sections were based upon drawings improperly acquired. If the chain of
evidence was not complete, the violent racial animosities then prevalent
moulded the missing links in the fervent heat of imagination.

But it is quite easy to account for the superior cartography of the two
gulfs and Kangaroo Island. Le Geographe visited this region twice. In
April 1802, after meeting Flinders in Encounter Bay, Baudin sailed west,
and endeavoured to penetrate the two gulfs. But his corvette drew too
much water to permit him to go far, and he determined to give up the
attempt, and to devote "une seconde campagne" to "la reconnaissance
complete de ces deux grands enfoncements."* (* Voyage de Decouvertes 3
11.) In Sydney, Governor King permitted him to purchase a small locally
constructed vessel of light draught--called the Casuarina, because she
was built of she-oak--with which to explore rivers and shallow waters.
The command of this boat was entrusted to Lieutenant Louis de Freycinet,
the future cartographer and part historian of the expedition; and the
charts of the two gulfs and Kangaroo Island were made by, or under the
superintendence of, that officer. Freycinet was not with Le Geographe on
her first cruise in these waters, and was not responsible for the
original drawings upon which his charts of the Terre Napoleon coasts
eastward of Cape Jervis were founded. But the fact that he surveyed the
gulfs and Kangaroo Island on the second visit, in 1803, is quite
sufficient to account for the improved cartography of this region in the
French atlas. Whatever we may think of the part played by Freycinet in
relation to Flinders and the history of the expedition, his professional
ability was of a high character. All the charting work done by him, when
he had not to depend upon the rough drawings of inferior men, was very
good. His interest in scientific navigation was deep, and when, in 1817,
he was given the command of a fresh French expedition, consisting of the
Uranie and the Physicienne, the large folio atlas produced by him
indicated that he had studied the technicalities of his profession to
excellent purpose.

The superiority of the work done by Baudin's expedition in the vicinity
of the two gulfs, then, was not due to any fraudulent use of Flinders'
material, but simply to the fact that there was a competent officer in
charge of it at that time; and there is nothing on the charts for which
Freycinet was personally responsible to justify the belief that his work
claiming to be original was not genuinely his own. When, in 1824, he
published a second edition of the Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres
Australes,* (* In octavo volumes; the first edition was in quarto.) he
repudiated with quiet dignity the suggestion that the work of the English
navigator had been plagiarised.* (* "C'est assez," he wrote, "repousser
des accusations odieuses et envenimees, fondees sur des idees
chimeriques, avec absence de toute espece de preuve. Le temps, qui calme
les passions humaines et permet toujours a la verite de reprendre ses
droits, fera justice d'accusations concues avec legerete et soutenues
avec inconvenance. Peron et Flinders sont morts; l'un et l'autre ont des
titres certains a notre estime, a notre admiration; ils vivront, ainsi
que leurs travaux, dans la memoire des hommes, et les nuages que je
cherche a dissiper auront disparu sans retour" (volume 1 Preface page
11). One cannot but be touched by that appeal; but at the same time it is
to be observed that in the very preface in which he made it, Freycinet
did far less than justice to the work of Flinders.) Except for the Port
Phillip part of the work, we might fairly say that history has commonly
done him and his confreres a serious injustice.

But we have seen that, although Port Phillip was included in the French
charts, and inside soundings were actually shown, neither the port nor
the entrance was seen by the expedition. How was that information

Le Geographe and Le Naturaliste lay in Sydney harbour from June 20 to
November 18, 1802, their afflicted crews receiving medical treatment, and
their officers enjoying the hospitality of Governor King. Flinders and
Lieutenant John Murray, who discovered Port Phillip, were both there
during part of the same time. It was then that the French learnt of the
existence of the great harbour of which Baudin was ignorant when he met
Flinders in Encounter Bay; and it is highly probable that by some means
they obtained a copy of the chart which they saw.

Grounds for stating that that is a probability will be advanced a little
later. But let us first see how the drawing of Port Phillip that does
appear on the Terre Napoleon charts got there.

It was taken, as Freycinet acknowledged,* (* Voyage de Decouvertes 3
430.) "from a manuscript chart prepared on the English ship Armiston, in
1804. In 1806 the French frigate La Piedmontoise captured the British
ship Fame. Amongst the papers found on board was this manuscript chart.
It so happened that one of the officers of La Piedmontoise was Lieutenant
Charles Baudin des Ardennes, who had been a junior officer on Le
Naturaliste from 1800 to 1804. (He was no relative of Captain Baudin. The
family of Baudin des Ardennes was very well known in France; and this
officer became a distinguished French admiral.) He took possession of the
manuscript, and handed it over to Freycinet, who made use of it in
preparing his charts.

Probably it was a very rough chart; but even so, if Freycinet had had
anything like a drawing of Port Phillip made on Le Geographe, he would
have turned out a better piece of work. Not only is the outline very
defective, but the "lay" of the Nepean peninsula is so grossly wrong that
this alone would suffice to show that Freycinet did not merely correct
his chart with the aid of that captured from the Fame, but that the whole
drawing of Port Phillip was fitted in, like a patch. However ill a
navigator may draw, he always knows whether a coast along which he is
sailing runs west or north-west. A mariner's apprentice would know that.
But on the Terre Napoleon charts, the peninsula lies due east and west,
whereas in reality, as the reader will see by reference to any good map,
it has a decidedly north-westerly inclination. The patch was not well put
on. The consequence of this bad cobbling was to give a box-like,
rectangular appearance to the bay, utterly unlike the reality. The east
and west sides were carried about as far as Mornington and St. Leonards
respectively, in two nearly straight and parallel lines; Swan Bay and
Swan Island were missed altogether; and the graceful curve of the coast
round by Sorrento and Dromana--a curve most grateful to the eye on a day
when sea and sky are blue, and the silver sands and white cliffs shine in
the clear light--was tortured into a sharp bend. It was a very rough bit
of work.

The fact that an expedition sent out for discovery purposes, and which
named a considerable extent of the coast-line traversed after the Emperor
who had enabled it to be despatched, had to depend upon a manuscript
accidentally obtained from a captured British merchant ship for a chart
of the principal port in the territory so flauntingly denominated, hardly
calls for comment. But even when we are in possession of this
information, we are still left in some doubt as to whether the French had
not some sort of a drawing of Port Phillip before they left Sydney.
Otherwise the course pursued by their commodore after quitting that port
is quite unaccountable. The following reasons induce that belief.

When Baudin bade an affectionate and grateful farewell to Governor King
at Sydney on November 18, he sailed direct to King Island, which is
situated in Bass Strait, on the 40th parallel of south latitude, about
midway between the south-east of Cape Otway and the north-west corner of
Tasmania. Le Geographe was accompanied by Le Naturaliste and the little
Casuarina. A camp was established on the island, which was fully charted.
Baudin had missed it on his former voyage, though he had sailed within a
few miles of it. It will be remembered that when Flinders conversed with
him in Encounter Bay, and "inquired concerning a large island said to lie
in the western entrance of Bass Strait," Baudin said he had not seen it,
"and seemed to doubt much of its existence."* (*Flinders, Voyage 1 188.)
But Flinders found it easily enough, and spent a little time there before
entering Port Phillip. It was doubtless this inquiry of Flinders that
induced Baudin to mark down on his chart a purely fictitious island far
westward of the actual one, and to inscribe against it the words, "it is
believed that an island exists in this latitude."* (* "On croit qu'il
existe une ile par cette latitude." See the chart, a little west of Cape
Bridgewater (Cap Duquesne).)

As Baudin afterwards found the real island, it is curious that the
imaginary one should have been kept upon his chart; but there is a reason
for that also. While the French lay at King Island, most of the work done
up to date--geographical, zoological, and other--was collected and sent
back to France on Le Naturaliste; Le Geographe and the Casuarina
remaining to finish the exploratory voyage. Le Naturaliste sailed for
Europe on December 16, and entered the port of Havre on June 6, 1803. Had
Baudin lived to return to France, and to supervise the completion of the
charts, it is most probable that he would have erased the island which
was merely supposed, as he had since charted the real one; but Freycinet,
not having been present at the meeting with Flinders, and knowing nothing
of the reason which induced Baudin to set it down, left it there--a
quaint little fragment of corroboration of the truth of Flinders'
narrative of the Encounter Bay incident.

Now, when at the end of December Le Geographe and the Casuarina sailed
from King Island--the naturalists having in the interval profitably
enjoyed themselves in collecting plants, insects, and marine
specimens--they made direct for Kangaroo Island, four hundred miles away,
to resume the work which had been commenced in the gulfs in the previous
April and May. The whole of the movements of the ships up to this time
are to be read in the printed logs appended to volume 3 of the Voyage de
Decouvertes. Baudin made no call at Port Phillip, nor did one of his
three vessels visit the harbour either before or after reaching King
Island. But by this time Baudin knew all about the port, and it is surely
difficult to suppose that he would have sailed straight past it in
December unless at length he had it marked on his rough charts. His
officers knew about it too, though none of them had seen it; for Captain
Hamelin of Le Naturaliste reported when he reached Paris, that, as he
left King Island, he met and spoke to "an English goelette on her way to
Port Philips [sic], south-east coast."* (* Moniteur, 27 Thermidor.) It
was the Cumberland, Lieutenant Charles Robbins, bound on a mission to be
explained later.

It seems reasonable to assume that when Le Naturaliste sailed for France
on December 16, and the two other ships for Kangaroo Island later in the
same month, Baudin was quite satisfied that he had in his possession as
complete a representation of the whole of the Terre Napoleon coasts
westward to the gulfs, as would justify him in resuming the work from
that situation. Clearly, then, he obtained a Port Phillip drawing of some
kind before he left Sydney.

From what source could Baudin have obtained such a chart, however rough
and partial?

Up to the time when he lay at Port Jackson, only two ships had ever
entered Port Phillip. These were the Lady Nelson, under Murray's command,
in February 1802--the harbour having been discovered in the previous
month--and the Investigator, under Flinders, in April and May. No other
keels had, from the moment of the discovery until Baudin's vessels
finally left these coasts, breasted the broad expanse of waters at the
head of which the great city of Melbourne now stands. The next ship to
pass the heads was the Cumberland, which, early in 1803, entered with
Surveyor Grimes on board, to make the first complete survey of the port.
But by that time Baudin was far away. From one or other of the two
available sources, therefore, Baudin must have obtained a drawing,
assuming that he did obtain one in Sydney; and if he did not, his sailing
past the port, when he had an opportunity of entering it in December, was
surely as extraordinary a piece of wilful negligence as is to be found in
the annals of exploration.

It is possible that Baudin or one of his officers saw some drawing made
on the Lady Nelson. If they saw one made by Murray himself, it is not
likely to have been a very good one. Murray was not a skilled
cartographer. Governor King, who liked him, and wished to secure
promotion for him, had to confess in writing to the Duke of Portland,
that he did not "possess the qualities of an astronomer and surveyor,"
which was putting the matter in a very friendly fashion. If a chart or
crude drawing by Murray had been obtained, Freycinet might still be glad
to get the Fame chart which he used.

Both in his book and his correspondence Flinders mentions having shown
charts to Baudin; and though the French commodore did not reciprocate by
showing any of his work to Flinders, we may fairly regard that as due to
reluctance to challenge comparisons. Flinders was without a rival in his
generation for the beauty, completeness, and accuracy of his
hydrographical work, and Captain Baudin's excuses probably sprang from
pride. The reason he gave was that his charts were to be finished in
Paris. But there was nothing to prevent his showing the preliminary
drawings to Flinders, and as a fact he had shown them to King. If
Flinders had had a sight of them he would have detected at a glance the
absence of any indication of Port Phillip. But we learn from the Moniteur
of 27 Thermidor, Revolutionary Year 11 (August 15, 1803), which published
a progress report of the expedition, that the charts sent home by Baudin
were very rough. Part of the coast was described as being "figuree assez
grossierement et sans details."

Flinders, it should be explained, did not publish the chart which he made
when he entered Port Phillip with the Investigator, because by the time
when he was preparing his work for publication, a copy of the complete
survey chart made by Grimes had been supplied to him by the Admiralty. He
used Grimes's drawing in preference to his own--acknowledging the
authorship, of course--because when he found Port Phillip he was not in a
position to examine it thoroughly. His supplies, after his long voyage,
had become depleted, and he could not delay.

It is most likely that the French learnt of the existence of Port Phillip
from Flinders, though not at all likely that they were able to obtain a
copy of his drawing. If Baudin got one at all, it must have been

Freycinet did not acknowledge on any of his charts the source whence he
obtained his Port Phillip drawing. Obviously, it would have been honest
to do so. All he did was to insert two lines at the bottom of the page in
that part of volume 3 dealing with navigation details, where very few
readers would observe the reference.

There remains the question: Why did General Decaen keep Flinders' third
log-book when restoring to him all his other papers? The reason suggested
by Flinders himself is probably the right one: that the governor retained
it in order that he might be better able to justify himself to Napoleon
in case he was blamed for disregarding the passport. He "did not choose
to have his accusations disproved by the production either of the
original or of an authenticated copy." It is difficult to see what other
motive Decaen can have had. The sheer cantankerous desire to annoy and
injure a man who had angered him can hardly have been so strong within
him as even to cause a disregard of the common proprietary rights of his
prisoner. The book could have been of no use to Decaen for any other
purpose. Its contents had no bearing on the Terre Napoleon coasts, as
they related to a period subsequent to Flinders' voyage there. Doubtless
the book showed why the Cumberland called at Mauritius, but the reason
for that was palpable. The idea that a leaky twenty-nine ton schooner,
with her pumps out of gear, could have put into Port Louis with any
aggressive intent against the great French nation, which had a powerful
squadron under Admiral Linois in the Indian Ocean, was too absurd for
consideration. But Decaen was plainly hunting for reasons for detaining
Flinders, and it is possible that he found a shred of justification in
the despatches which the Cumberland was carrying from Governor King to
the British Government; though the protracted character of the
imprisonment, after every other member of the ship's company had been set
free, cannot have been due to that motive.

It is most probable that representations made to Decaen by Peron, before
Le Geographe sailed, had an effect upon the mind of the governor which
induced him to regard any ship flying the British flag as an enemy to
French policy. Peron, from what he had seen of the growth of Port
Jackson, and from the prompt audacity and pugnacious assertiveness of an
incident which occurred at King Island--to be described in the ninth
chapter--had conceived an inflated idea of the enormity of British
pretensions in the southern hemisphere. He was convinced that, using the
Sydney settlement as a base of operations, the British intended to
dominate the whole Pacific Ocean, even to the degree of menacing the
Spanish colonies of South America. On 20th Frimaire, Revolutionary Year
12 (December 11, 1803), four days before Le Geographe sailed from the
island, Peron set his views on paper in a report to Decaen, stating that
his interviews with officers, magistrates, clergymen, and other classes
of people in Sydney, had convinced him that his anticipations were well
founded. He pointed out that already the English were extending their
operations to the Sandwich, Friendly, Society, Navigator, and other
islands of the South Pacific; that at Norfolk Island they had a colony of
between fifteen hundred and sixteen hundred people, and found its timber
to be of great value for shipbuilding; and that gradually the British
Government, by extending their military posts and trading stations across
the ocean, would sooner or later establish themselves within striking
distance of Chili and Peru.* (* Peron's report to General Decaen is given
in M. Henri Prentout's valuable treatise, L'Ile de France sous Decaen,
1803 to 1810; essai sur la politique coloniale du premier empire, Paris
1901 page 380. M. Prentout's book is extremely fair, and, based as it is
mainly upon the voluminous papers of General Decaen, preserved in his
native town of Caen, is authoritative.) Peron pointed to the political
insecurity of the Spanish-American colonies, and predicted that the
outbreak of revolution in them, possibly with the connivance of the
English, would further the deep designs of that absorbent and dominating
nation.* (* A French author of later date, Prevost-Paradol (La France
Nouvelle, published in 1868), predicted that some day "a new Monroe
doctrine would forbid old Europe, in the name of the United States of
Australia, to put foot upon an isle of the Pacific.")

Decaen was pondering over Peron's inflammatory memorandum when the lame
little Cumberland staggered into Port Louis. Here, a victim ready to
hand, was one of the instruments of the extension of British dominion,
the foremost explorer in the service of the British Crown. True, Flinders
had a passport from the French Government, but it was made out, not for
the Cumberland but for the Investigator. To take advantage of such a
point, when the Investigator had had to be abandoned as unseaworthy, was
manifestly to seize the flimsiest pretext for imprisoning the man whom
the winds and waves had brought within his power.* (* "C'etait une
chicane," says M. Henri Prentout, page 382.) But Decaen was in the temper
for regarding the English navigator as a spy, and he imprisoned him first
and looked for evidence to justify himself afterwards. He had just read
Peron's report; and "it was not unnatural," says a learned French
historian somewhat naively, "that the Captain-General should attribute to
the English savant the intention of playing at Port Louis the role that
our naturalist had played at Port Jackson."* (* Ibid.) The imputation is
unjust to Peron, who had not "spied" in Port Jackson, because the English
there had manifested no disposition to conceal. Nothing that he reported
was what the Government had wished him not to see; they had helped him to
see all that he desired; and his preposterous political inferences,
though devoid of foundation, hardly amounted to a positive breach of
hospitality. Besides, had Decaen feared that the release of Flinders
would be dangerous because he might report the weak state of the defences
of the island, the same would have applied to the liberation of the
junior officers and men of the Cumberland. They, however, were permitted
to return to England after a brief period of detention.

Decaen also alleged that Flinders was personally rude to him in
presenting himself before him "le chapeau sur la tete." Flinders was
undoubtedly smarting under a sense of wrong at the time, but discourtesy
was by no means a feature of his character; and to imprison a man for six
and a half years for not taking his hat off would have been queer conduct
from a son of the Revolution!

But Decaen's reasons for his treatment of his captive were not consistent
with themselves. He gave quite another set in a report to his Government,
alleging that the detention of Flinders was justified as a measure of
reprisals on account of the action of the English at Pondicherry and the
Cape; and, entirely in the manner of a man looking for a shred of
justification for doing the unjustifiable, he alleged that vigorous
aggressive action on his part was necessary, because it was evident to
him that the English meant to absorb the whole commerce of the Indian
Ocean, the Pacific, and the China Sea, basing his statements on the
report of Peron, of which he sent a copy to Paris. Not only did he
represent that the British intended to annihilate French power in India,
and supplant Spanish authority in South America, but he regarded their
repeated visits to Timor, their action in regard to Java in 1798, and
their establishment at Penang, off the Malay Peninsula, as clear evidence
that the "greedy and devouring jaws" of the English lion were ready to
swallow the Dutch East Indies likewise. How these nefarious designs
afforded a reason for imprisoning Matthew Flinders is not apparent; but
Decaen was pleading for the despatch of troops to enable him to make an
effective attack upon the English in India,* (* Prentout, page 383.) and
he seemed to suppose that the holding up of the explorer would give
satisfaction in Paris, and further the accomplishment of his plans.

In October 1810, only three months after the liberation of Flinders, the
Isle of France was closely blockaded by a British squadron under
Vice-Admiral Bertie. In December, General Decaen agreed to capitulate,
and Major-General Abercromby took possession of the island, which has
ever since been a British dependency. It is unfortunate that the British
officers did not at this time remember that Decaen had kept Flinders'
third log-book. He had written to Vice-Admiral Bertie from the Cape of
Good Hope, in July 1810, requesting that "if any occurrences should put
General Decaen within his power," he would demand the volume from him.
But the request was overlooked, "in the tumult of events," when the
capitulation took place.* (* Flinders, letter to the Admiralty, in
Historical Records of New South Wales 7 529.) It is, however, significant
of the honour in which naval men held the intrepid navigator, that after
the capitulation the British officers refused to dine with Decaen, on
account of his treatment of Flinders.* (* Souvenirs d'un vieux colon,
quoted by Prentout, page 660.) It was not the first time that gentlemen
wearing the naval uniform of England had refused to eat at his table.

On January 6, 1811, a French schooner was captured bearing despatches
from France. Amongst them was a despatch informing Decaen that Napoleon
had superseded him in the governorship.* (* Naval Chronicle volume 25
337.) Before he could obey the summons to France, the British had
captured the island and sent him home. It is scarcely likely that the
Emperor's order of recall was due to disapproval of Decaen's conduct in
continuing Flinders' imprisonment after the French Government had ordered
his release, although there is in existence a decree signed by Napoleon,
dated March 11, 1806, "authorising the Minister of Marine to restore his
ship to Captain Flinders of the English schooner Cumberland."* (* The
document is in the Archives Nationales, Paris (AP. 4 pl. 1260, n. 47).
The author is indebted for this fact to Dr. Charles Schmidt, the
archivist at the Archives Nationales, through the courtesy of Mr. F.M.
Bladen, of the Public Library, Sydney. Dr. Schmidt has also supplied the
information that this is "the only document concerning Captain Flinders
in our possession." "Concerning the voyages of Peron and Freycinet, I
have found nothing in the Archives," he adds.) As Flinders was not
released till July 1810, Decaen certainly did disregard the Emperor's
command for three years--from July 1807, when the decree was received by
him, though it is to be remembered that he restored the trunk of papers
in the very next month (August). But Napoleon had signified to Decaen's
aide-de-camp, Barois--who was sent to France in 1804 with special
instructions to mention the Flinders affair to the Emperor--that he
approved of what the general had done;* (* Prentout, page 393. "Napoleon
parut approuver les raisons que Barois invoquait pour justifier la
conduite de Decaen.") and Napoleon was scarcely likely to be gravely
concerned about the calamities of an English sea captain at that
particular time. It is true that between 1804 and the release, Sir Joseph
Banks and other influential men in the world of learning had been active
in urging the liberation of the navigator. The venerable Bougainville was
one of these. It is also true that Napoleon prided himself on his
interest in scientific work. But Decaen had been a good servant, placed
in a difficult situation, where there was much responsibility and little
glory to be won; and even if the Emperor had felt annoyed at the
disregard of orders, the matter did not affect his major lines of policy,
and Decaen was safe in reckoning that the Imperial displeasure would not
be severely displayed. But why he risked giving offence to Napoleon at
all by the disregard of orders, there is, it would seem, nothing in
Decaen's papers to show. M. Prentout, who has studied them carefully, is
driven back on the suggestion that the prolongation of the captivity was
due to "entetement"--stubbornness. But it cost the administration four
hundred and fifty francs per month to maintain Flinders,* (* Prentout,
page 382.) and it seems improbable, when the finances of the island were
difficult to adjust and severe economies were enforced, that Decaen, an
economical man, would have kept up this expense year after year,
disregarding alike the protests of the prisoner, the demands of Lord
Wellesley and Admiral Pellew, and later, the direct orders of the French
Government, unless some influence were at work and some practical
interest furnished a motive. The obstinacy of Decaen is not a sufficient
reason. We know, however, that it suited Freycinet very well to have
Flinders detained till he could get his own charts ready, and that his
atlas was precipitately published in the first instance. The connection
between these occurrences and Decaen's cruel perversity must, in the
absence of clear proof, be bridged by inference, if at all.

Napoleon was, however, a soldier after all--much else as well, but a
soldier first and foremost; and so was Decaen. When the general returned
to France, his Imperial master had urgent need for stern, stubborn,
fighting men of his type. He submitted to a court-martial* (* "Un conseil
d'enquete." Biographie Universelle 10 248.) in reference to the surrender
of Mauritius, but was exonerated. The discretion that he had exercised in
not obeying the decree for the liberation of Flinders was evidently not
made the ground of serious complaint against him, for in 1813 we find him
commanding the army of Catalonia, participating gallantly in the campaign
of the Pyrenees, and distinguishing himself at Barcelona under Marshal
Suchet. For this service he was made a Comte of the Empire. When Napoleon
was banished to Elba the Comte Decaen donned the white cockade, and took
service under Louis XVIII, but on the return of his old master he, like
Ney and some other of the tough warriors of the First Empire, forswore
his fidelity to the Bourbons. He was one of the generals left to guard
the southern frontiers of France while Napoleon played his last stake for
dominion in the terrific war game that ended with the cataclysm of
Waterloo. That event terminated Decaen's military course. For a while he
was imprisoned, but his life was not taken, as was that of the gallant
Ney; and in a few months he was liberated at the instance of the Duchesse
d'Angouleme. Thenceforth he lived a colourless, quiet, penurious life in
the vicinity of his native Caen, regretting not at all, one fancies, the
ruin of the useful career of the enterprising English navigator. His
poverty was honourable, for he had handled large funds during the
Consulate and Empire; and there is probably as much sincerity as pathos
in what he said to Soult and Gouvion-Saint-Cyr in his declining days,
that nothing remained to him after thirty years of honourable service and
the occupancy of high offices, except the satisfaction of having at all
times done his duty. He died in 1832. His official papers fill no fewer
than one hundred and forty-nine volumes and are preserved in the library
of the ancient Norman city whose name he bore as his own.


Did Bonaparte desire to establish French colonial dominions in Australia?
The case stated.

We will now turn to quite another aspect of the Terre Napoleon story, and
one which to many readers will be more fruitful in interest. An
investigation of the work of Baudin's expedition on the particular
stretch of coast to which was applied the name of the most potent
personage in modern history has necessarily demanded close application to
geographical details, and a minute scrutiny of claims and occurrences. We
enter into a wider historical realm when we begin to consider the motives
which led Bonaparte to despatch the expedition of 1800 to 1804. Here we
are no longer confined to shores which, at the time when we are concerned
with them, were the abode of desolation and the nursery of a solitude
uninterrupted for untallied ages, save by the screams of innumerable
sea-birds, or, occasionally, here and there, by the corroboree cries of
naked savages, whose kitchen-middens, feet thick with shells, still
betray the places where they feasted.

We wish to know why Bonaparte, who had overturned the Directory by the
audacity of Brumaire and hoisted himself into the dominating position of
First Consul in the year before Le Geographe and Le Naturaliste were sent
to the South Seas, authorised the undertaking of that enterprise. Was it
what it purported to be, an expedition of exploration, or was it a move
in a cunning game of state-craft by a player whose board, as some would
have us believe, was the whole planet? Had Bonaparte, so soon after
ascending to supremacy in the Government of France, already conceived the
dazzling dream of a vast world-empire acknowledging his sway, and was
this a step towards the achievement of it? If not that, was he desirous
by this means of striking a blow at the prestige of Great Britain, whose
hero Nelson had smashed his fleet at the Nile two years before? Or had he
ideals in the direction of establishing French colonial dominions in
southern latitudes, and did he desire to obtain accurate information as
to where the tricolour might most advantageously be planted? It ought to
be possible, out of the copious store of available material relative to
Napoleon's era, to form a sound opinion on this fascinating subject. But
we had better resolve to have the material before we do formulate a
conclusion, and not jump to one regardless of evidence, or the lack of

In this inquiry very little assistance is given to the student by those
classical historians of the period to whose voluminous writings reference
might naturally be made. There is not, for example, the slightest
allusion to Baudin's expedition or the Terre Napoleon incidents in
Thiers' twenty-tomed Histoire du Consulat et de l'Empire; nor can the
reader get much assistance from consulting many British works on the same
epoch. An endeavour has, however, been made to set the facts in their
right perspective, by a brilliant contemporary English historian, Dr.
John Holland Rose, somewhat curtly in his Revolutionary and Napoleonic
Era, but more fully in his Life of Napoleon.* (* Life of Napoleon 1 379
to 383. Still later, in his lecture on "England's Commercial Struggle
with Napoleon," included in the Lectures on the Nineteenth Century,
edited by F.A. Kirkpatrick (1908), Dr. Holland Rose pursues the same
theme.) The present writer, after an independent study of the facts, is
unable to share Dr. Holland Rose's view, as will presently appear, but
the desire being less to urge an opinion than to present the case in its
true relations, it will be convenient to state Dr. Rose's presentment of
it before proceeding to look at it from other aspects.

"The unknown continent of Australia," says the historian, "appealed to
Napoleon's imagination, which pictured its solitudes transformed by
French energy into a second fatherland." Bonaparte had "early turned his
eyes to that land." He took a copy of Cook's voyages with him to Egypt,
and no sooner was he firmly installed as First Consul, than he "planned
with the Institute of France a great French expedition to New Holland."
It is represented that the Terre Napoleon maps show that "under the guise
of being an emissary of civilisation, Commodore Baudin was prepared to
claim half the continent for France."* (* Ibid page 381. The Terre
Napoleon region is far from being half the continent of Australia, if
that be what Dr. Holland Rose's words mean. One observes, by the way, a
tendency on the part of English writers to use very small maps when
speaking of the size of things in Australia.) Indeed, his inquiry "about
the extent of British claims on the Pacific coast was so significant as
to elicit from Governor King the reply that the whole of Van Diemen's
Land and of the coast from Cape Howe on the south of the mainland to Cape
York on the north, was British territory." The facts relative to the
awakening of suspicion in Governor King's mind--to be discussed
hereafter--are likewise stated; together with those affecting the
settlements of Hobart and Port Phillip; and it is concluded that "the
plans of Napoleon for the acquisition of Van Diemen's Land and the middle
of Australia, had an effect like that which the ambition of Montcalm,
Dupleix, Lally, and Peron has exerted on the ultimate destiny of many a
vast and fertile territory."* (* Ibid page 382. One or two errors of fact
may as well be indicated. Murray's discovery of Port Phillip was made in
1802, not in 1801, as stated on page 380 of the Life of Napoleon; the
title of Flinders' book was not "A Voyage of Discovery to the Australian
Isles" (page 381), but A Voyage to Terra Australis; Bass, the discoverer
of the Strait bearing his name, was not a lieutenant (page 380), but a
surgeon on H.M.S. Reliance. The Freycinet Peninsula, the French name of
which is mentioned as being "still retained" (page 381), is not, it
should be understood, on the Terre Napoleon coast at all, but in Eastern
Tasmania. Dr. Rose's error as to the retention of other French names has
been dealt with in Chapter 4.)

These passages submit with definiteness the view that Bonaparte, in 1800,
despatched Baudin's ships from motives of political policy. He had
"plans" for the requisition of territory in Australia; he wished to found
a "second fatherland" for the French; Baudin was "prepared to claim half
the continent for France." Now, the reader who turns to Dr. Holland
Rose's book * (* He who turns to it without reading it through will miss
an opulent source of profit and pleasure.) for references to proofs of
these statements, will be disappointed. The learned author, who is
usually liberal in his citation of authorities, here confines himself to
the Voyage de Decouvertes of Peron and Freycinet, the Voyage of Flinders,
and the collection of documents in the seven volumes of the Historical
Records of New South Wales--all works of first-class importance, but none
of them bearing out the broad general statements as to the First Consul's
plans and intentions. Not a scrap of evidence is adduced from memoirs,
letters, or state papers. To represent Napoleon as obsessed with
magnificent ideas of universal dominion, scanning, like Milton's Satan
from the mountain height, the immensity of many realms, and aspiring to
rule them all--to do this is to present an enthralling picture, inflaming
the imagination of the reader; and, perhaps, of the writer too. But we
must beware of drawing an inference and painting it to look like a fact;
we must regard historical data through the clear white glass of
criticism, not through the coloured window of a gorgeous generalisation.

The remainder of our task, then, shall be devoted to examining the
origins of Baudin's expedition. We will inquire into the instructions
given to the commander; we will follow his vessels with a careful eye to
any incidents that may point to ulterior political purposes; we will have
regard to the suspicions engendered at the time, how far they were
justifiable, and what consequences followed from them; we will search for
motives; and we will look at what the expedition did, in case there
should by any chance thereby be disclosed any hint of an aspiration
towards territorial acquisition. We will try to regard the evidence as a
whole, the object being--as the object of all honest historical inquiry
must be--to ascertain the truth about it, freed from those jealousies and
prejudices which, so freely deposited at the time, tend to consolidate
and petrify until, as with the guano massed hard on islets in
Australasian seas, it is difficult to get at the solid rock beneath for
the accretions upon it, and sometimes not easy to discriminate rock from


Baudin's one of a series of French expeditions.
The building up of the map of Australia.
Early map-makers.
Terra Australis.
Dutch navigators.
Emmerie Mollineux's map.
Tasman and Dampier.
The Petites Lettres of Maupertuis.
De Brosses and his Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes.
French voyages that originated from it.
Bougainville; Marion-Dufresne; La Perouse; Bruni Dentrecasteaux.
Voyages subsequent to Baudin's.
The object of the voyages scientific and exploratory.
The Institute of France and its proposition.
Received by Bonaparte with interest.
Bonaparte's interest in geography and travel.
His authorisation of the expedition.
The Committee of the Institute and their instructions.
Fitting out of the expedition.
Le Geographe and Le Naturaliste.
The staff.
Francois Peron.
Captain Nicolas Baudin.

French interest in southern exploration did not commence nor did it cease
with the expedition of 1800 to 1804. We fall into a radical error if we
regard that as an isolated endeavour. It was, in truth, a link in a
chain: one of a series of efforts made by the French to solve what was,
during the eighteenth century, a problem with which the scientific
intellect of Europe was much concerned.

The tardy and piecemeal fashion in which definiteness was given to
southern latitudes on the map of the world makes a curious chapter in the
history of geographical research. After the ships of Magellan and Drake
had circumnavigated the globe, and a very large part of America had been
mapped, there still lay, south of the tracks of those adventurers who
rounded the Horn and breasted the Pacific, a region that remained
unknown--a Terra Australis, Great Southern Continent, or Terra Incognita
as it was vaguely and variously termed. Map-makers, having no certain
data concerning this vast uncharted area, commonly sprawled across the
extremity of the southern hemisphere a purely fanciful outline of
imaginary land. Terra Australis was the playground of the cartographers
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They seemed to abhor blank
spaces. Some of the most beautiful of the old maps make the oceans busy
with spouting whales, sportive dolphins, and galleons with bellying
sails; but what to do with the great staring expanse of vacancy at the
bottom their authors did not know. So they drew a crooked line across the
map to represent land, and stuck upon it the label Terra Australis, or
one of the other designations just mentioned. The configuration of the
territory on different maps did not agree, and not one of them signified
a coast with anything like the form of the real Great Southern Continent.

To the period of fancy succeeded that of patchwork. Came the Dutch, often
blown out of their true course from the Cape of Good Hope to the Spice
Islands, and stumbling upon the shores of Western Australia. To some such
accident we probably owe the piece of improved cartography shown upon
Emmerie Mollineux's map, which Hakluyt inserted in some copies of the
second edition of his Principal Navigations, and which Shakespeare is
supposed to have had in mind when, in a merry scene in Twelfth Night, he
made Maria say of Malvolio (3 2 85): "He does smile his face into more
lines than is in the new map with the AUGMENTATION OF THE INDIES."* (*
See Mr. Charles Coote's paper in Transactions of New Shakespeare Society,
1877 to 1879. He read the phrase "augmentation of the Indies," as
referring to this and some other additions to the map of the world, now
for the first time shown. In those days, of course, "the Indies" meant
pretty well everything out of Europe, including America. It is curious
that Flinders called the aboriginals whom he saw in Port Phillip
"Indians." Probably all coloured peoples were "Indians" to seamen even so
late as his day. There is a fine copy of the map referred to in volume 1
of the 1903 edition of Hakluyt, edited by Professor Walter Raleigh.) This
map marks an improvement, in the sense that an approach to the truth,
probably founded on actual observation, is an improvement on a large,
comprehensive piece of guess work. Emmerie Mollineux expunged the
imaginary region, and substituted a small tongue of land, shaped like a
thimble. It was doubtless copied from some Dutch chart; and though we
must not look for precision of outline at so early a date, it is
sufficient to show that some navigator had seen, hereabouts, a real piece
of Australia, and had made a note of what it looked like. It is not much,
but, rightly regarded, it is like the first gleam of light on the dark
sky where the dawn is to paint its radiance.

English Dampier (1686 to 1688, and 1699 to 1701) and Dutch Tasman (1642
to 1644) made the most substantial contributions to the world's knowledge
of the true form of Australia to be credited to any individual navigators
before the coming of Cook, the greatest of all.

It is very strange that so long a period as a century and a half should
have been allowed to lapse between Tasman's very remarkable voyage and
Flinders' completion of the outline of Australia, and that three-quarters
of a century should have separated the explorations of Dampier and Cook.
Here, crooned over by her great gum forests, baring her broad breast of
plains to the sun and moon, lay a land holding within her immense
solitudes unimaginable wealth; genial in climate, rich in soil, abounding
in mineral treasures, fit to be a home for happy, industrious millions.
Yet, while avarice and enterprise schemed and fought for the west and the
east, this treasury of the south remained unsolicited. It is not for us
to regret that Australia was left for a race that knew how to woo her
with affection and to conquer her with their science and their will, yet
we can but wonder that fortune should have been so tardy and so reticent
in disclosing a fifth division of the globe.

While this piecing together of the outline of the continent was
proceeding, speculation was naturally rife among men of science as to
what countries southern latitudes contained, and what their capabilities
were. It was essentially a scientific problem awaiting solution; and it
is not surprising that the French, quick-brained, inquisitive, eager in
pursuit of ideas, should have been active in this field.

Their intellectual concern with South Sea discovery may be said to date
from the publication of the Petites Lettres of Pierre Louis Moreau de
Maupertuis. He was, like some of whom Browning has written, a "person of
some importance in his day," and his writings on physics are still
mentioned with respect in works devoted to the history of science. But he
is perhaps chiefly remembered as the savant whom Frederick the Great
attracted to his court during a period of aloofness from the
scintillating Voltaire, and who consequently became a writhing target for
the jealous ridicule of that waspish wit. Poor Maupertuis, unhappy in his
exit from life, would appear to have been restless after it, for his
ghost is averred to have stalked in the hall of the Academy of Berlin,
and to have been seen by a brother professor there, the remarkable
phenomenon being solemnly recorded in the Transactions of that learned
body.* (* See Sir Walter Scott's Demonology and Witchcraft, Letter 1.)
But of far more practical importance than the appearance of his perturbed
shade, was the effect of his Petites Lettres, which suggested twelve
projects for the advancement of knowledge, one of which was the promotion
of discovery in the southern hemisphere.

Shortly after its publication, Maupertuis' proposition was discussed by a
society of accomplished students meeting at Dijon, the ancient capital of
Burgundy. A member of the Society to whom much deference was paid, was
Charles de Brosses, lawyer, scholar, and President of the Parlement of
the Province.* (* The local parliaments were abolished in the reign of
Louis XV, reinstated by Louis XVI, and finally swept away in the stormy
demolition of ancient institutions to make ground for the constitution of
1791.) De Brosses was an industrious student and writer, the translator
of Sallust into French, and author of several valuable historical and
philological works, including a number of learned papers which may be
read--or not--in the stout calf-bound quartos enshrining the records of
the Academy of Inscriptions.* (* His papers in that regiment of tomes
range over a period of fifty years, from 1746 to 1796. They deal chiefly
with Roman history, and especially with points suggested by the author's
profound study of Sallust. Gibbon pays De Brosses the compliment of
quoting two of his works, and commends his "SINGULAR diligence," with
emphasis on the adjective. (See Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire, Bury's edition 4 37 and 7 168.) He was also Voltaire's landlord
at Tournay, and had a quarrel with him about a matter of firewood; but De
Brosses was a lawyer, whilst Voltaire was only a philosopher and a poet,
so that of course the result was "qu'il enrage d'avoir enfin a payer."*
(* Lanson's Voltaire page 139.)

The discussion at Dijon was more fruitful in results than such colloquies
usually are. De Brosses was especially struck with the utility of
exploration in southern seas, and considered that the French nation
should take the lead in such an endeavour. He spoke for a full hour in
support of this particular suggestion of Maupertuis, and when he had
finished his fellow-members assured him that what he had advanced was so
novel and interesting that he would do well to expand his ideas into an
essay, to be read at the next meeting. De Brosses did more: for he wrote
two solid quarto volumes, published at Paris in 1756--"avec approbation
et privilege du Roy," as the title page says--in which he related all
that he could learn about previous voyages to the south, and pointed out,
with generous amplitude, in limpid, fluent French, the desirableness of
pursuing further discoveries there. Incidentally he coined a useful word:
to Monsieur le President Charles de Brosses we owe the name
"Australasia."* (* De Brosses, Histoire des Navigations aux Terres
Australes 1 426 and 2 367. Max Muller, in his Lectures on the Origin of
Religion page 59, stated that De Brosses coined three valuable words,
"fetishism," "Polynesia," and "Australia." He certainly did not originate
the word Australia, which does not occur anywhere in his book. Quiros, in
1606, named one of the islands of the New Hebrides group Austrialia del
Espiritu Santo, though he seems to have done so in compliment to Philip
III, who ruled Austria as well as Spain. See Markham, Voyages of Quiros
volume 1 page 30 Hakluyt Society. "Australasia" was De Brosses' new name
for a broad division of the globe. He derived it from the Latin australis
= southern + Asia.)

A work written over one hundred and fifty years ago, recommending a
project long since completed, can hardly be expected to be full of living
interest. Yet this book of De Brosses, apart from the research which it
evinced, was infused with a large, humane spirit that lifted it high
above the level of a prospectus. The author had a sense of patriotism
that looked beyond the aggrandisement that might accrue from extensive
acquisitions, to the ideal of spreading French civilisation as a
beneficent force. He wished his country to share in a great work of
discovery that would redound to its glory as well as to its influence.
Glory, he wrote, in a fine piece of French prose, is the dominant passion
of kings; but their common and inveterate error is to search for it in
war--that is to say, in the reciprocal misfortunes of their subjects and
their neighbours. But there never is any true glory for them unless the
happiness of nations is the object of their enterprises. In the task
which he recommended, the grandeur of the object was joined to utility.
To augment the lands known to civilised mankind by a new world, and to
enrich the old world with the natural products of the new--this would be
the effect of the fresh discoveries that he anticipated. What comparison
could there be between such a project and the conquest--it might be the
unjust conquest--of some ravaged piece of territory, of two or three
fortresses battered by cannon and acquired by the massacre, the ruin, the
desolation, and the regrets of the vanquished people; bought, too, at a
price a hundred times greater than would suffice for the entire voyage of
discovery proposed. He pointed out that the task could only be taken in
hand by a government; it was too large for individuals. But the result
was certain. In truth, to succeed in the complete discovery of the Terres
Australes, it was not necessary to have any other end in view than
success: it was simply necessary to employ proper means and sufficient

De Brosses discussed the probably most advantageous situation for
settlement in the South Seas, though in doing so he was hampered by
insufficient knowledge. Relying upon the reports of Tasman, he considered
New Zealand and "la terre de Diemen"--that is, Tasmania--too distant and
too little known for an experiment; whilst the narratives of Dampier did
not make those parts of New Holland that he had visited--the west and
north of Australia--appear attractive. On the whole, he favoured the
island to the east of Papua-New Guinea--known as New Britain (now New
Pomerania), and the Austrialia del Espiritu Santo of the Spanish
navigator Quiros as very suitable. It is interesting to note that the
present French settlements in the New Hebrides embrace the latter island,
whilst their possessions in the New Caledonia group are quite close; so
that ultimately they have planted themselves on the very spot which a
century and a half ago the savant of Dijon considered best fitted for
them. De Brosses admitted that the establishment of such settlements as
he recommended would not be the work of a day. Great enterprises require
great efforts. It is for individuals to measure years, he loftily said;
nations calculate by centuries. Powerful peoples must take extended views
of things; and kings, as their chiefs, animated by the desire of glory
and the love of country and of humanity, ought to consider themselves as
personalities persisting always, and working for eternity.* (* The
passages summarised are to be found in De Brosses, 1: 4, 8, 11, 19; and
2: 368, 380, 383.)

The elevated tone of De Brosses' book was calculated to make a telling
appeal to the French nation, with their love of eclat and their ready
receptivity. It was made, too, in the age of Voltaire, when the great man
was living at Lausanne; and when, too, another of equally enduring fame,
Edward Gibbon, was, in the same neighbourhood, polishing those balanced
periods in which he has related the degeneracy of the successors of the
Caesars. It was an age of intellectual ferment. Rousseau was writing his
Contrat Social (1760), the Encyclopedie was leavening Gallic thought.
There was a particular proneness to accept fresh ideas; a new sense of
national consciousness was awakening.

The effect of the President's work was almost immediate. De Brosses
published it in 1756; and in 1766 Louis de Bougainville sailed from
France in command of La Boudeuse and L'Etoile on a voyage around the
world.* (* See the Voyage du Monde par la frigate du Roi La Boudeuse et
la flute L'Etoile en 1766, 1767, 1768, 1769, by Louis de Bougainville,
Paris, 1771.) A eulogy pronounced on De Brosses before the Academy of
Inscriptions by Dupuy* (* Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions 42 177.)
hardly put the case too strongly when it was said that before he died he
had the satisfaction to see in Europe men animated by his spirit, who had
gone forth, braving the risks of a long voyage, to make discoveries;
though the prophecy that centuries to come would doubtless count to his
glory the achievements of navigators has not been verified. The world is
perhaps too little inclined to accord to him who promulgates an idea the
praise readily bestowed upon those who realise it.

Bougainville discovered the Navigator Islands, re-discovered the Solomon
group, and was only just forestalled by the Englishman, Wallis, in the
discovery of Tahiti. He produced a book of travel which may be read with
scarcely less interest than the wonderful work of his contemporary, Cook.

The voyage of Nicholas Marion-Dufresne (1771) differed from the other
French expeditions of the series in that one of the ships belonged to the
commander, and part of the cost was sustained by him. He was fired by a
passion for exploration, which led him to propose that he should take out
his vessel, Le Mascurin, in company with a ship of the navy, and that a
grant should be made to him from the public funds. The French Government
acquiesced, and gave him Le Marquis de Castries. He did some exploring in
southern Tasmania, but his career was cut short in New Zealand, where, in
the Bay of Islands, he was killed and eaten by Maories in 1772.* (*
Rochon, Nouveau Voyage a la Mar du Sud, Paris 1783.) One of the objects
of the voyage was to take back to Tahiti a native woman, Aontouron, who
had been brought to Paris by Bougainville to be shown at the court of
Louis XV; but she died of smallpox en route.

Again, in 1785, the expedition commanded by the ill-fated La Perouse
sailed from France on a discovery voyage.* (* See the Voyage de la
Perouse, redige par M. L.A. Milet-Mureau, volume 1 Paris 1797.) The
appearance of his two ships, La Boussole and l'Astrolabe, in Port Jackson
only a fortnight after Governor Phillip had landed in Botany Bay to
establish the first British settlement in Australia, was an event not
less surprising to the governor than to La Perouse, who had left France
before colonisation was intended by the English Government, though he
heard of it in the course of the voyage. The French navigator remained in
the harbour from February 23 to March 10 (1788), on excellent terms with
Phillip; and then, sailing away to pursue his discoveries, "vanished
trackless into blue immensity, and only some mournful mysterious shadow
of him hovered long in all heads and hearts." His remark to Captain King,
"Mr. Cook has done so much that he has left me nothing to do but admire
his work," indicated the generous candour of his disposition. His fate
after he sailed from Sydney remained a mystery for forty years, Flinders,
on his voyage inside the Barrier Reef in 1802, kept a lookout for
wreckage that might afford a key to the problem. He wrote: "The French
navigator La Perouse, whose unfortunate situation, if in existence, was
always present to my mind, had been wrecked, as it was thought, somewhere
in the neighbourhood of New Caledonia; and if so the remnants of his
ships were likely to be brought upon this coast by the trade winds, and
might indicate the situation of the reef or island which had proved so
fatal to him. With such an indication, I was led to believe in the
possibility of finding the place; and though the hope of restoring La
Perouse or any of his companions to their country and friends could not,
after so many years, be rationally entertained, yet to gain some
knowledge of their fate would do away with the pain of suspense, and it
might not be too late to retrieve some documents of their discoveries.*
(* Flinders, Voyage 2 48.) The vigilance of Flinders to this end
indicates the fascination which the mysterious fate of the French mariner
had for seamen, until doubts were finally set at rest in 1827, when one
of the East India Company's ships, under Captain Dillon, found at
Manicolo, in the New Hebrides, traces of the wreckage of the vessels of
La Perouse. Native tradition enabled the history of the end of the
expedition to be ascertained. The French ships, on a dark and stormy
night, were both driven on the reef, and soon pounded to match-wood. A
few of the sailors got ashore, but most were drowned; and the bulk of the
remainder were lost in an unsuccessful attempt to make for civilised
regions from the coral isolation of Manicolo. A monument to the memory of
the gallant La Perouse, on the coast a few miles from Sydney, now fronts
the Pacific whose winds wafted him to his doom, and beneath whose waters
he found his grave.

The next link in the chain was furnished by the expedition commanded by
Bruni Dentrecasteaux, who, while the hurricane of the Revolution was
raging, was despatched (1791) to search for La Perouse. He made important
discoveries on his own account,* (* Voyage de Dentrecasteaux, redige par
M. de Rossel, Paris 1808; Labillardiere, Relation du Voyage a la
Recherche de la Perouse, Paris 1800.) both on the mainland of Australia
and in Tasmania; and though he found no trace of his predecessor, his own
name is honourably remembered among the eminent navigators who did
original work in Australasia. It was Dentrecasteaux's hydrographer,
Beautemps Beaupre, whose charting of part of the southern coast of
Australia was so highly praised by Flinders.

The expeditions thus enumerated were all despatched before the era of
Napoleon, and appreciation of their objects cannot therefore be
complicated by doubts as to his Machiavellian designs. Bougainville's
voyage, and that of Marion-Dufresne, were promoted under Louis XV, that
of La Perouse under Louis XVI, and Dentrecasteaux's under the
Revolutionary Assembly. Each was an expedition of discovery.

Next came the expedition commanded by Nicolas Baudin, with which we are
mainly concerned, and which was despatched under the Consulate. It will
presently be demonstrated that it did not differ in purpose from its
predecessors, and that there is nothing to show that in authorising it
Bonaparte had any other object than that professed. But before pursuing
that subject, let it be made clear that French exploring expeditions to
the South Seas were continued after the final overthrow of the Empire.

In 1817, while Napoleon was mewed up in St. Helena, and a Bourbon once
more occupied the throne of France as Louis XVIII, the ships Uranie and
Physicienne were sent out under the command of Captain Louis de
Freycinet, the cartographer of Baudin's expedition.* (* Voyage autour du
Monde, entrepris par ordre du Roi, par Louis de Freycinet, Paris 1827.)
They visited some of the scenes of former French exploits, and Freycinet
took advantage of his position on the west coast to pull down and
appropriate for the French Academy of Inscriptions the oldest memorial of
European presence in Australia. That is to say, he took the plate put up
by the Dutchman Vlaming in 1697, in place of that erected in 1616 by Dirk
Haticks on the island bearing the name of "Dirk Hartog," to commemorate
his visit in the ship Eendraght of Amsterdam.* (* Ibid 1 449.) Freycinet
had desired to take the plate when he was an officer on Le Naturaliste in
July 1801, but Captain Hamelin, the commander, would not permit it to be
disturbed. On the contrary, he set up a new post with the plate affixed
to it, and expressed the opinion that to remove an interesting memorial
that for over a century had been spared by nature and by man, would be to
commit a kind of sacrilege.* (* "Il eut pense commettre un sacrilege en
gardant a son bord cette plaque respectee pendant pres de deux siecles
par la nature et par les hommes qui pouvoient avant nous l'avoir
observee." Peron, Voyage de Decouvertes 1 195.) Freycinet was not so

Again, in 1824, the Baron de Bougainville, a son of the older navigator,
and who as a junior officer had sailed with Baudin, took out the ships
Thetis and Esperance on a voyage to the South Seas, for purely
geographical purposes;* (* Journal de la Navigation autour du monde de la
fregate La Thetis et de la corvette L'Esperance, pendant les annees
1824-1826; publie par ordre du Roi. Par M. le Baron de Bougainville.) and
still later, in 1826 to 1828, during the reign of Charles X, Dumont
d'Urville, in the Astrolabe, did valuable exploratory work, especially in
the Western Pacific.* (* Voyage de la corvette L'Astrolabe, execute par
ordre du Roi, pendant les annees 1826-1829, sous le commandement de M. J.
Dumont D'Urville, Paris 1830.)

The whole of these expeditions, with the partial exception of that of
Marion-Dufresne, were conducted in ships of the French navy, commanded by
French officers, supported by French funds, and their official records
were published at the expense of the French Government. A certain unity
of purpose characterised them; and that purpose was as purely and truly
directed to extend man's knowledge of the habitable earth as was that of
any expedition that ever sailed under any flag.

To attempt, therefore, to isolate Baudin's expedition from the series to
which it rightly belongs, simply because it was undertaken while
Bonaparte was at the head of the State, is to convey a false idea of it.
If there were any evidence to show that it differed from the others in
its aims, it would be quite proper to make it stand alone. But there is

Nor must it be supposed that this particular enterprise originated with
the First Consul. It was not a scheme generated in his teeming brain,
like the strategy of a campaign, or a masterstroke of diplomacy. It was
placed before him for approval in the shape of a proposition from the
Institute of France, a scientific body, concerned not with political
machinations, but with the advancement of knowledge. The Institute
considered that there was useful work to be done by a new expedition of
discovery, and believed it to be its duty to submit a plan to the
Government. We are so informed by Peron, and there is the best of reasons
for believing him.* (* "L'honneur national et le progres des sciences
parmi nous se reunissoient donc pour reclamer une expedition de
decouvertes aux Terres Australes, et l'Institut de France crut devoir la
proposer au gouvernement." Peron, Voyage de Decouvertes 1 4.) The history
of the voyage was published after Napoleon had become Emperor, under his
sanction, at the Imperial Press. If his had been the originating mind, it
is quite certain that credit for the idea would not have been claimed for
others. On the contrary, we should probably have had an adulatory
paragraph from Peron's pen about the beneficence of the Imperial will as
exercised in the cause of science.

Quite apart from Peron's statement, however, there are three official
declarations to the like effect. First there is the announcement in the
Moniteur* (* 23rd Floreal, Revolutionary Year 8; "L'Institut national a
demande au premier consul, et a obtenu.) that it was the Institute which
requested Bonaparte to sanction the expedition. Secondly, when
Vice-Admiral Rosily reported to the Minister of Marine on Freycinet's
charts in 1813,* (* Moniteur, January 15, 1813.) he commenced by
observing that the expedition "had for its object the completion of the
knowledge of the coasts of New Holland which were not hitherto entirely
known." Thirdly, Henri de Freycinet, writing in 1808,* (* Ibid July 2,
1808.) said that it was the high interest stimulated by the voyages of La
Perouse and Dentrecasteaux that made the Institute eagerly desirous of a
new enterprise devoted to the reconnaissance of Australia. The last two
statements were, it will be observed, published by Napoleon's official
organ when the Empire was at its height.

There is no positive evidence as to what members of the Institute were
chiefly instrumental in formulating the proposal for Napoleon's
consideration. We do not know whether leading members explained their
scheme to him orally, or laid before him a written statement. If there
was a plan in manuscript, the text of it has never been published.* (*
"Probably it was suppressed or destroyed," says Dr. Holland Rose (Life of
Napoleon 1 379). But why should it have been? There is no reason to
suppose that it contained anything which it was to anybody's interest to
destroy or suppress. Indeed, it is by no means clear that there was such
a document. It is quite likely that the scheme of the Institute was
explained verbally to the First Consul. Why manufacture mysteries?) There
is only one document relating to the expedition in the collected
correspondence of Napoleon;* (* Edition of 1861.) and that concerned an
incident to which reference will be made in the next chapter. The reason
for the absence of letters concerning the matter among Napoleon's papers
is presumably that he left the carrying out of the project to the
Institute; for he was not wont to restrain his directing hand in affairs
in which he was personally concerned.

But there were two leading members of the Institute who had already
concerned themselves with Australasian discovery, and who may safely be
assumed to have taken the initiative in this matter. They were
Bougainville the explorer, who had commanded the expedition of 1766 to
1771, and Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu, who had been Minister of
Marine in 1790, and had written a book on the Decouvertes des Francais
dans le sud-est de la Nouvelle Guinee (Paris, 1790), in which he
maintained the prior claims of the French navigators Bougainville and
Surville to discoveries to which later English explorers had in ignorance
given fresh names. Fleurieu had also intended to write the history of the
voyages of La Perouse, but was prevented by pressure of official and
other occupations, and handed the work over to Milet-Mureau.* (* Voyage
de la Perouse, Preface 1 page 3.) He stood high in the esteem of
Napoleon, was a counsellor of State during the Consulate, became
intendant-general of the Emperor's household, governor of the palace of
Versailles, senator, and comte. Both Fleurieu and Bougainville had
abundant opportunities for explaining the utility of a fresh voyage of
exploration to Napoleon.

It was, too, quite natural that these men should desire to promote a new
French voyage of discovery. None knew better what might be hoped to be
achieved. We are fairly safe in assuming that they moved the Institute to
submit a proposition to the First Consul; and it is not improbable that
they personally interviewed him on the subject.

Bonaparte, at any rate, received the proposal "with interest," and we
learn from Peron* (* Voyage de Decouvertes 1 4.) that he definitely
authorised the expedition at the very time when his army of reserve was
about to move from Geneva to cross the Alps in that astonishing campaign
which conduced, by swift, toilsome, and surprising manoeuvres, to the
crushing victory of Marengo. The plan of the Institute was therefore
ratified in May 1800. The Austrians at that time were holding French arms
severely in check in Savoy and northern Italy. Suchet, Massena, Oudinot,
and Soult were, with fluctuating fortunes but always with stubborn
valour, clinging desperately to their positions or yielding ground to
superior strength, awaiting with confidence the hour when the supreme
master would strike the shattering blow that, while relieving the
pressure on them, would completely change the aspect of the war. It was
while pondering his masterstroke, and deliberating on the choice of the
path across the Alps that was to lead to it, that Bonaparte gave his
approval; while elaborating a scheme to overwhelm the armies of Austria
in an abyss of carnage, that he expressed the wish that, as the
expedition would come in contact with ignorant savages, care should be
taken to make it appear that the French met them as "friends and

It may here be parenthetically remarked that it does not make us think
more favourably of Freycinet that when, in 1824, he issued a new edition
of the Voyage de Decouvertes, he omitted all Peron's references to
Napoleon's interest in the expedition, and his direction that when
savages were met the French should appear among them "comme des amis et
des bienfaiteurs."* (* Peron, 1 10.) While Peron tells us that this
laudable wish was personally expressed by the First Consul, Freycinet* (*
1 74, in the 1824 edition.) altered the phrase to "le gouvernement
voulut," etc. He had absolutely no justification for doing so. The reader
of the second edition of the book had a right to expect that he was in
possession of the original text, save for the correction of incidental
errors. But in 1824 Napoleon was dead, a Bourbon reigned in France, and
Freycinet was the servant of the monarchy to which he owed the command of
the expedition of 1817. The suppression of Napoleon's name and the record
of his actions from Peron's text, was a puerile piece of servility.

There is nothing surprising in Bonaparte's cordial approval of the
enterprise. One has only to study the volumes in which M. Frederic Masson
has collected the papers and memoranda relating to Napoleon's youth and
early manhood to realise how intensely keen was his interest in geography
and travel. In one of those interesting works is a document occupying
eight printed pages, in which Napoleon had summarised a geographical
textbook, with a view to the more perfect mastery of its contents.* (*
See Masson's Napoleon Inconnu; Papiers Inedits; Paris 1895 volume 2 page
44. The text-book was that of Lacroix.) It is curious to note how little
the young scholar was able to ascertain about Australasia from the volume
from which he learnt the elements of that science for which, with his
genius for strategy and tactics, he must have had an instinctive taste.
"La Nouvelle Guinee, la Carpentarie, la Nouvelle Hollande," etc., figure
in his notes as the countries forming the principal part of the southern
hemisphere now grouped under the denomination of Australasia; "la
Carpentarie" thus signalised as a separated land being simply the
northern region of Australia proper, the farthest limit of which is Cape
York.* (* Mallet's Description de l'Univers (Frankfort 1686) mentions
"Carpenterie" as being near the "Terre des Papous," and as discovered by
the Dutch captain, Carpenter.)

It is not a little interesting, that when, in April 1800, twenty
sculptors were commissioned to execute as many busts of great men to
adorn the Galerie des Consuls, the only Englishmen among the honoured
score were Marlborough and Dampier.* (* Aulard, Paris sous le Consulat 1
267.) It is curious to find the adventurous ex-buccaneer in such noble
company as that of Cicero, Cato, Caesar, Demosthenes, Frederick the
Great, and George Washington, but the fact that he was among the selected
heroes may be taken as another evidence of Bonaparte's interest in the
men who helped to find out what the world was like. Perhaps if somebody
had seen him reading Dampier's Voyages, as he read Cook's on the way to
Egypt, that fact would have been instanced as another proof, not of his
fondness for extremely fascinating literature, but of the nourishment of
a secret passion to seize the coasts which Dampier explored.

Napoleon had been a good and a diligent student. The fascinating but
hateful characteristics of his later career, when he was the Emperor with
a heart petrified and corroded by ambition, the conqueror ever greedy of
fresh conquest, the scourge of nations and the tyrant of kings, too often
make one overlook the liberal instincts of his earlier years. His passion
for knowledge was profound, and he was the pronounced friend of every
genuine man of science, of every movement having for its object the
acquisition and diffusion of fresh enlightenment. It is an English
writer* (* Merz, History of European Thought in the Nineteenth Century 1
152 to 154.) who says of him that he was, "amongst the great heroes and
statesmen of his age, the first and foremost if not the only one, who
seemed thoroughly to realise the part which science was destined to play
in the immediate future"; and the same author adds that "some of the
glory of Laplace and Cuvier falls upon Napoleon." He took pleasure in the
company and conversation of men of science; and never more so than during
the period of the Consulate. Thibaudeau's memoirs show him dining one
night with Laplace, Monge, and Berthollet; and the English translator of
that delightful book* (* Dr. Fortescue, page 273. Compare also Lord
Rosebery, Napoleon, the Last Phase page 234: "In the first period of his
Consulate he was an almost ideal ruler. He was firm, sagacious,
far-seeing, energetic, just.") emphasises the contrast between the "just
and noble sanity of the First Consul of 1802 and the delirium of the
Emperor of 1812."  The failure to keep that difference in mind--to
recognise that the Bonaparte of the early Consulate was capable of
exalted ideals for the general well-being that were foreign to the
Napoleon of ten years later--is fruitful of mistakes in interpreting his
activities. On April 8 he attended a seance of the Institute, and was
there instrumental in reconciling several persons who had become
estranged through events which occurred during the Revolution.* (*
Aulard, Paris sous le Consulat, 1 252.) He was therefore on good terms
with this learned body, and was himself a member of that division of it
which was devoted to the physical and mathematical sciences.* (*
Thibaudeau (English edition) page 112.)

It was quite natural, then, that when the national representatives of
scientific thought in France approached him with a proposition that was
calculated to make his era illustrious by a grand voyage of exploration
which should complete man's knowledge of the great continents, the First
Consul gave a ready consent.

The task of preparing instructions for the voyage was entrusted to a
Committee of the Institute, consisting of Fleurieu, Bougainville,
Laplace, Lacepede, Cuvier, Jussieu, Lelievre, Langles, and Camus; whilst
Degerando wrote a special memorandum upon the methods to be followed in
the observation of savage peoples--the latter probably in consequence of
the First Consul's particular direction on this subject. It was an
admirably chosen body for formulating a programme of scientific research.
A great astronomer, two eminent biologists, a famous botanist, a
practical navigator, a geographer, all men of distinction among European
savants, and two of them, Laplace and Cuvier, among the greatest men of
science of modern times, were scholars who knew what might be expected to
be gained for knowledge, and where and how the most fruitful results
might be obtained.

In their instructions, the committee directed attention to the south
coast of Tasmania--by that time known to be an island, since the
discoveries of Bass and Flinders, and their circumnavigation, had been
the subject of much comment in Europe--as offering a good field for
geographical research. They indicated the advisableness of exploring the
eastern coast of the island, of traversing Bass Strait with a view to a
more complete examination than appeared to the Institute to have been
made up to that time, and of pursuing the southern coasts of Australia as
far as the western point of Dentrecasteaux's investigations, especially
with the object of searching that part of the land "where there is
supposed to be a strait communicating with the Gulf of Carpentaria, and
which, consequently, would divide New Holland into two large and almost
equal islands." So much accomplished, the expedition was to pay
particular attention to the coasts westward of the Swan River, since the
old navigators who had determined their contour had necessarily had to
work with imperfect instruments. The vessels were then to make a fuller
exploration of the western and northern shores than had hitherto been
achieved, to attack the south-west of Papua (New Guinea), and to
investigate the Gulf of Carpentaria. No instructions seem to have been
given relative to a further examination of the eastern coasts of the
continent. Cook's work there was evidently thought to be sufficient,
though Flinders found several
fresh and important harbours. The programme, as Peron pointed out,
involved the exploration in detail of several thousands of miles of
coasts hitherto quite unknown or imperfectly known, and its proper
performance was calculated to accomplish highly important work in
perfecting a knowledge of the geography of the southern hemisphere.

The French Government fitted out the expedition in a lavish and elaborate
fashion.* (* "Les savans ont vu avec le plus grand interet les soins que
le gouvernement a pris pour rendre ce voyage utile a l'histoire naturelle
et a la connaissance des moeurs des sauvages." Moniteur, 22nd Fructidor.)
Funds were not stinted, and the commander was given unlimited credit to
obtain anything that he required at any port of call. The best scientific
instruments were procured, and the stores of the great naval depot of
Havre were thrown open for the equipment of the ships with every
necessity and comfort for a long voyage. Luxuries were not spared; "in a
word," says Peron, "the Government had ordered that nothing whatever
should be omitted that could assure the preservation of health, promote
the work of the staff, and guarantee the independence of the expedition."

Two vessels lying in the port of Havre were selected. The principal one,
which was named Le Geographe, was a corvette of 30 guns, 450 tons,
drawing fifteen or sixteen feet of water, a fast sailer, but, in Peron's
opinion, not so good a boat for the purpose as her consort. Flinders
described her as a "heavy-looking ship." The second vessel, named Le
Naturaliste, was a strong, lumbering store-ship, very slow, but solid.
She was a "grosse gabare," as one French writer described her.* (* Dr.
Holland Rose (Revolutionary and Napoleonic Era page 139) heightens the
effect of his argument by stating that Bonaparte "sent out men-of-war to
survey the south coast of Australia for a settlement." It may be true
that, strictly speaking, the ships were "men-of-war," inasmuch as they
were ships of the navy. But the reader would hardly derive the
impression, from the words quoted, that they were vessels utterly
unwarlike in equipment, manning, and command. As will presently be seen,
they were very soon loaded up with scientific specimens. Nor is there any
warrant for the statement that the expedition was instructed to "survey
the south coast of Australia for a settlement." There was nothing about
settlement in the instructions, which were not, as the passage would lead
the reader to infer, confined to the south coast.)

The staff was selected with great care, special examinations being
prescribed for the younger naval officers. A large company of artists,
men of science, and gardeners accompanied the expedition for the
collection of specimens, the making of charts and drawings, and the
systematic observation of phenomena. There were two astronomers, two
hydrographers, three botanists, five zoologists, two mineralogists, five
artists, and five gardeners. Probably no exploring expedition to the
South Seas before this time had set out with such a large equipment of
selected, talented men for scientific and artistic work. The whole
staff--nautical, scientific, and artistic--on the two ships consisted of
sixty-one persons, of whom only twenty-nine returned to France after
sharing the fatigues and distress of the whole voyage. Seven died, twenty
had to be put ashore on account of serious illness, and five left the
expedition for other causes.

The great German traveller and savant, Alexander von Humboldt, was in
Paris while preparations were being made for the despatch of the
expedition; and, being at that time desirous of pursuing scientific
investigations in distant regions, he obtained permission to embark, with
the instruments he had collected, in one of Baudin's vessels. He
confessed, however, that he had "but little confidence in the personal
character of Captain Baudin," chiefly on account of the dissatisfaction
he had given to the Court of Vienna in regard to a previous voyage.* (*
Humboldt's Personal Narrative of Travels, translated by H.M. Williams,
London 1814 volume 1 pages 6 to 8.) Humboldt's testimony is interesting,
inasmuch as, if it be reliable--and, as he was in close touch with
leading French men of science, there is no reason to disbelieve him--the
original intention was to make the voyage more extensive in scope, and
different in the route followed, than was afterwards determined. "The
first plan," he wrote, "was great, bold, and worthy of being executed by
a more enlightened commander. The purpose of the expedition was to visit
the Spanish possessions of South America, from the mouth of the River
Plata to the kingdom of Quito and the isthmus of Panama. After traversing
the archipelago of the great ocean, and exploring the coasts of New
Holland from Van Diemen's Land to that of Nuyts, both vessels were to
stop at Madagascar, and return by the Cape of Good Hope." Concerning the
reasons why he was not ultimately taken, Humboldt was not accurately
informed. "The war which broke out in Germany and Italy," he wrote,
"determined the French Government to withdraw the funds granted for their
voyage of discovery, and adjourn it to an indefinite period." Such was
not the case. The funds were not withdrawn; the expedition was not
adjourned. But Humboldt was a German, and the Institute very naturally
desired that French savants should do the work which was to be sustained
by French funds. There would probably be the less inclination to employ
Humboldt, as he reserved to himself "the liberty of leaving Captain
Baudin whenever I thought proper." He believed himself to be "cruelly
deceived in my hopes, seeing the plans which I had been forming during
many years of my life overthrown in a single day." But in view of his
confessed dislike of the commander, it does not seem that, on this ground
alone, it would have been good policy to enrol him as a member of the
staff, when there were French men of science eager for appointment.

The chief naturalist and future historian of the expedition, Francois
Peron, was twenty-five years of age when he was commissioned to join Le
Geographe. Born at Cerilly (Allier) in 1775, he was left fatherless at an
early age; but he was a bright, promising scholar, and the cure of his
native place took him into his house with the object of educating him for
the priesthood. But "seduced by the principles of liberty which served as
pretext for the Revolution, inflamed by patriotism, his spirit exalted by
his reading of ancient history," as a biographer, Deleuze, wrote, he left
the peaceful home of the village priest, and shouldered a musket under
the tricolour. He fought in the army of the Rhine, and in an engagement
against the Prussians at Kaiserslautern, was wounded and taken prisoner.
Always a student, he spent the little money that he had on the purchase
of books, which he devoted all his time to reading. He was exchanged in
1794, and returned to France.

His short soldiering career had cost him his right eye; but this
deprivation really determined the vocation for which his genius
especially fitted him. The Minister of the Interior gave him admission to
the school of medicine at Paris, where, in addition to pursuing the
prescribed course, he applied himself with enthusiasm to the study of
biology* (* The word "biology" was not used till Lamarck employed it in
1801 to cover all the sciences concerned with living matter; but we are
so accustomed to it nowadays, that it is the most convenient word to use
to describe the group of studies to which Peron applied himself.) and
comparative anatomy at the Museum. He was industrious, keen, methodical,
and, above all, possessed of that valuable quality of imagination which,
discreetly harnessed to the use of the scientific intellect, enables a
student to see through his facts, and to read their vital meaning. The
expedition to the South Seas had already been fitted out, and Baudin's
ships were lying at Havre awaiting sailing orders from the Minister of
Marine, when Peron sought employment as an additional biologist. The
staff was by that time complete; but Peron addressed himself to Jussieu,
pressing his request with such ardour, and explaining his well-considered
plans with such clearness, that the eminent botanist was unable to listen
to him "sans etonnement et sans emotion."

Peron was very anxious to travel, not only for the sake of the scientific
work which he might do, but also to find relief for his feelings,
depressed by the disappointment of a love affair. Mademoiselle was
unkind--because the lover was poor, his biographer says; but we must not
forget that he was also one-eyed. Many ladies prefer a man with two.

Jussieu conferred with Lacepede the biologist, and the two agreed that it
would be advantageous to permit this enthusiastic young student to make
the voyage. Peron was encouraged to write a paper to be read before the
Institute, expounding his views. He did so, taking as his principal theme
the desirableness of having with the expedition a naturalist especially
charged with researches in anthropology. The Institute was convinced; the
Minister of Marine was moved; Peron was appointed. He consulted with
Cuvier, Lacepede, and Degerando as to a programme of work, procured the
necessary apparatus, went to Cerilly to embrace his sisters and receive
his mother's benediction, and joined Le Geographe just before she
sailed.* (* The facts concerning Peron's early career are taken from
Deleuze's memoir, 1811, and that of Maurice Girard, 1857.)

The command of the expedition was entrusted to Captain Nicolas Baudin. He
was fifty years of age when he received this commission, on the
nomination of the Institute. In his youth he had been engaged in the
French mercantile marine. In later years he had commanded two
expeditions, despatched under the Austrian flag, for botanical purposes.
From the last of these he returned in 1797, when, his country being at
war with Austria, he presented the complete collection of animals and
plants obtained to the French nation.* (* The Moniteur, 25th Prairial
(June 13), 1797.) This timely act won him the friendship of Jussieu, and
it was largely through his influence that "Citoyen" Baudin was chosen to
command the expedition to the Terres Australes.* (* The Moniteur, 23rd
Floreal (May 13), 1800.) He had had no training in the Navy, though if,
as some suppose, the expedition had a secret aggressive mission, we may
reasonably conjecture that it would have been placed under the command of
a naval officer with some amount of fighting experience.

That Baudin did not become popular with the staff under his command is
apparent from the studious omission of his name from the volumes of Peron
and Freycinet, and from their resentful references to "notre chef." They
wrote not a single commendatory word about him throughout the book, and
they expressed no syllable of regret when he died in the course of the

Sometimes we may judge of a man's reputation among his contemporaries by
an anecdote, even when we doubt its truth; for men do not usually tell
stories that disparage the capacity of those whom they respect. An
amusing if venomous story about Baudin was told by the author of a
narrative of one of the botanical voyages.* (* See the Naval Chronicle
volume 14 page 103. The writer referred to was Bory de Saint-Vincent, who
wrote the Voyage dans les quatre principales iles des mers d'Afrique,
Paris 1804.) He related, on the alleged authority of an officer, that,
being in want of a magnetic needle to replace one belonging to a compass
which had been injured, he applied to the commodore, who had several in a
drawer in his cabin. Baudin found one, but as it was somewhat rusty, the
officer feared that the magnetic properties of the steel would be
impaired. Baudin expressed his regret, and said: "Everything has been
furnished by the Government in the most niggardly fashion; if they had
followed my advice we should have been provided with silver needles
instead of steel ones!"

Whether or not we believe that a naval commander could be so ignorant of
magnetism, it is certain that Baudin did not enforce the laws of health
on his ships. Sufficient has been said in the first chapter to show so
much. The Consular Government gave unlimited scope for the proper
provisioning of the vessels, and yet we find officers and men in a
wretched condition, the water insufficient, and the food supplies in
utter decay, before the expedition reached Port Jackson. It must be
added, however--even out of its proper place, lest an unduly harsh
impression of Baudin's character should be conveyed--that he seems to
have made an excellent impression upon the English in Sydney. Governor
King treated him as a friend; and the letter of farewell that he wrote on
his departure was such a delicate specimen of grace and courtesy, that
one would feel that only a gentleman could have written it, were there
not too many instances to show that elegant manners and language towards
strangers are not incompatible with the rough and inconsiderate treatment
of subordinates.


The passports from the English Government.
Sailing of the expedition.
French interest in it.
The case of Ah Sam.
Baudin's obstinacy.
Short supplies.
The French ships on the Western Australian coast.
The Ile Lucas and its name.
Refreshment at Timor.
The English frigate Virginia.
Baudin sails south.
Shortage of water.
The French in Tasmania.
Peron among the aboriginals.
The savage and the boat.
Among native women.
A question of colour.
Separation of the ships by storm.
Baudin sails through Bass Strait, and meets Flinders.
Great storms and intense suffering.
Le Geographe at Port Jackson.

England and France were at war when, in June 1800, application was made
to the British Admiralty for passports for the French discovery ships.
Earlier in that year the Government of the Republic sent to London Louis
Guillaume Otto, a diplomatist of experience and tried discretion, to
arrange for the exchange of prisoners of war; and it was Otto, whose tact
and probity won him the esteem of King George's advisers, who conducted
the preliminary negotiations which led up to the Treaty of Amiens. Earl
Spencer was First Lord of the Admiralty--in Pitt's administration (1783
to 1801)--when the application was made.

The Quarterly Review of August 1810 (volume 4 page 42) fell into a
singular error in blaming Addington's administration for the issue of the
passports. Pitt's ministry did not fall till March 1801; and the censure
which the reviewer levelled at the "good-natured minister," Earl St.
Vincent, who was Addington's First Lord of the Admiralty, for
entertaining the French application, was therefore undeserved by him. "A
few months after the retirement of Mr. Pitt from office and the
succession of Mr. Addington, that is to say, in June 1800," are the
opening words of the Quarterly article--an extraordinary blunder for a
contemporary to make. The Quarterly was, of course, bitterly adverse to
Addington's administration, in politics; but though party bias is
responsible for strange behaviour, we shall be safe in attributing to
lapse of memory this censure of a minister for the act of his
predecessor. St. Vincent was in active service, as Admiral in command of
the Channel Fleet, when the passports were issued.

It cannot be assumed that Spencer would have complied with such a request
from a nation with which his country was at war, had he not been
satisfied that the expedition was what it professed to be, one for
discovery and scientific research. The passports granted guaranteed to Le
Geographe and Le Naturaliste protection from hostile attack from British
ships, and bespoke for them a favourable reception in any British port
out of Europe where they might have to seek shelter.

The Admiralty was in later years severely blamed for compliance.
Circumstances that have been narrated in previous pages generated the
suspicion that the real purpose of the expedition was "to ascertain the
real state of New Holland, to discover what our colonists were doing, and
what was left for the French to do, on this great continent in the event
of a peace, to find some port in the neighbourhood of our settlements
which should be to them what Pondicherry was to Hindustan, to rear the
standard of Bonaparte on the first convenient spot."* (* Quarterly Review
4 43. There can be no doubt that this Quarterly article had a great
influence in formulating the idea which has been current for nearly a
century regarding Napoleon's deep designs. Paterson's History of New
South Wales (1811) repeated portions of the article almost verbally, but
without quotation marks (see Preface page 5), and many later writers have
fed upon its leading themes, without submitting them to examination.) The
fact that this sweeping condemnation was made in a powerful organ of
opinion bitterly hostile to the administration which it meant to attack,
would minimise its importance for us, a century later, were it not that
more recent writers have adopted the same assumption. To accept it, we
have not merely to disregard the total absence of evidence, but to
believe that Spencer was befooled and that Otto deceived him. The
application was, it was urged, "grounded on false pretences," and the
passports were "fraudulently obtained." It would have been a piece of
audacity of quite superb coolness for the French diplomatist to ask for
British protection for ships on ostensible grounds of research, had their
secret purpose been exactly opposite to the profession; and the British
Minister would have been guilty of grave dereliction of duty had he not
assured himself that Otto's representations were reliable.

The letter of instructions furnished by the Duke of Portland, Secretary
of State in Pitt's administration, to Grant, the commander of the Lady
Nelson, in February 1800, may be quoted as laying down the principle
observed by Great Britain in regard to an enemy's ships commissioned
purely for discovery. "As vessels fitted out for this purpose," wrote the
Duke, "have always been respected by the nations of Europe,
notwithstanding actual hostilities may at the time have existed between
them, and as this country has always manifested the greatest attention to
other nations on similar occasions, as you will observe by the letters
written in favour of vessels employed in discovery by France and Spain,
copies of which you receive enclosed, I have no apprehension whatever of
your suffering any hindrance or molestation from the ships of other
nations should you fall in with them...You are also, on pain of His
Majesty's utmost displeasure, to refrain on your part from making prizes,
or from detaining or molesting the ships of any other nation, although
they may be at war with His Majesty."* (* Historical Records of New South
Wales 4 57.)

It was on this enlightened principle that the British Government
furnished passports to Baudin's ships; but the Admiralty also took steps
to prevent the laurels of important discovery being won by foreign
efforts. Flinders returned home in the Reliance in August, vigorous,
eager for fresh work, and already, notwithstanding his youth, honourably
regarded by naval men as an intrepid and skilful navigator. Lord Spencer,
the head of a family eminently distinguished for the great administrators
whom it has furnished for the furtherance of British polity, did a far
wiser thing than attempting to block French researches, from suspicion,
jealousy, or fear of consequences. He entertained the suggestion of Sir
Joseph Banks, ordered the fitting out of the Investigator, and placed her
under the command of the one man in the Navy who knew what discovery work
there was to do, and how to accomplish it speedily. Pitt's consummate
judgment in the selection of men for crucial work has often been
eulogised, and never too warmly; but one can hardly over-praise the
sagacity of Pitt's colleague at the Admiralty, who especially commended
Nelson as the officer to checkmate Bonaparte in the Mediterranean in
1798,* (* See Mahan's Life of Nelson (1899 edition) page 275.) and, on
the more pacific side of naval activity, commissioned Matthew Flinders to
complete the discovery of Australia in 1800.

Baudin's expedition was ready to sail from Havre at the end of September,
but was delayed by contrary winds. The delay was considered by a friendly
contemporary to be fortunate, in that it enabled the officers and
scientific staff to become friendly, so that the most perfect harmony
existed amongst them.* (* Moniteur, 29th Vendemiaire, Revolutionary Year
8 (1800).) French readers of the official organ of the Government were
also assured that everybody on the two ships had merited confidence in
the talent of the chiefs; in which case their disappointment with later
developments must have been all the more profound. The public and the
journals took a lively interest in the enterprise; and the author of one
of the world's great stories, Bernardin de Saint Pierre, from his
experience of tropical life in the island where Paul and Virginia lived
and loved, lectured at the Institute on the dietetic regime which ought
to be observed by Captain Baudin and his men.* (* Moniteur, 16th
Vendemiaire.) But however valuable his advice may have been, it was sadly

A livelier function was a banquet given to Baudin at the Hotel de la
Rochefoucauld, in Paris, on the 7th Fructidor, by the Societe de
l'Afrique Interieure. It was attended by several leading members of the
Institute, and an account of it was accorded over a column of space in
the Moniteur.* (* 22nd Fructidor.) Baudin was seated between Bougainville
and Vaillant, an African traveller. There was music, and song, and a long
toast list, with many eloquent speeches. Baudin submitted the toast of
Bonaparte, "First Consul of the French Republic and protector of the
expedition"; Jussieu proposed the progress of the sciences; the company
drank to the "amelioration of the lot of savage races, and may their
civilisation result from the visit which the French are about to pay to
them"; and the immortal memory of La Perouse was honoured in silence. The
last toast appropriately expressed the wish that the whole company might
reassemble in the same place on the return of the expedition, "inspired
by the purest zeal for the progress of the sciences and of
enlightenment." A short poem was also recited, which it is worth while to
rescue from the inaccessibility of the Moniteur file:--

"Vous quittez aujourd'hui la France
Mais vous emportez tous nos voeux,
Et deja vos succes heureux
Partout sont applaudis d'avance.

Sur le coeur de tous les mortels
Votre gloire a jamais se fonde,
Il n'est pas de pays au monde
Ou le savoir n'ait des autels."

The poet who thus applauded success in advance, probably lived long
enough to realise that it is much easier to make fair verses than a true

There was another banquet at Havre while the ships were awaiting a fair
wind, when again high hopes were expressed concerning the results to be
achieved by the expedition, and where one of the toasts was proposed by a
Chinese, Ah Sam, who had been found on board a captured English frigate,
and was, by Bonaparte's orders, being taken by Baudin to Mauritius,
whence he was to be shipped to his own country. Ah Sam's toast descended
from ethereal altitudes and took a purely personal view of the situation.
He drank "Aux Francais, bons amis d'A Sam."* (* Moniteur, 21st
Vendemiaire.) The Chinaman had reason to be grateful, for the First
Consul had, by an order over his own signature, directed that he should
be placed under Baudin's charge, and conveyed to his own country at the
expense of the Government, and that there should be shown to him that
consideration which he merited, both because he was a stranger and
because of his good conduct while residing within the territories of the
Republic.* (* Correspondence of Napoleon, 1861 collection Volume 6,
letter dated 7th Vendemiaire, Revolutionary Year 9 (September 29, 1800).)
The treatment of Ah Sam was an example of that kindness which Napoleon,
ruthless in war, so often displayed towards those who touched his
sympathies.* (* Peron mentioned Ah Sam's case (1 11), but Freycinet, in
his second edition, cut out the paragraph, in pursuance of his policy of
suppressing references to Napoleon; Peron having written that the
Chinaman had reason to bless the generosity and goodness of the First
Consul. It was not politic in 1824 to talk about Napoleon's generosity
and goodness. But how paltry was the spirit thus displayed!)

The expedition sailed from Havre on the morning of October 19, 1800,
amidst cordial popular demonstrations from the inhabitants of that
bustling seaport, and many wishes that fortune might crown the efforts of
the explorers with success. The captain of the English frigate Proselite,
which was watching the harbour mouth, scrutinised the passports and
permitted the ships to pass; and, with a fair wind to fill his sails,
Baudin put out into the Channel and steered for the open ocean, bound due

Peron, in his history of the voyage, severely blamed the obstinacy of
"notre chef"--mention of his name being carefully avoided--for the delay
occasioned on the run down to the Cape of Good Hope. Captain Baudin,
disregarding the advice of his officers, insisted on sailing fairly close
to the African coast, instead of making a more westerly course. He
argued, according to Peron, that the route which he favoured was nearer,
and as a matter of mileage he was right. But winds and currents should
have been considered rather than bare distance; and the simple result of
bad seamanship was that Baudin's vessels occupied one hundred and
forty-five days on the voyage from Havre to Mauritius, where they stayed
to refit, whilst Flinders brought out the Investigator from Spithead the
whole way to Cape Leeuwin, where he first made the Australian coast, in
one hundred and forty-two days. The French vessels lay at Mauritius for
the leisurely space of forty days, and did not reach Australia till May
27, two hundred and twenty days after their departure from France.

Even then, had reasonable diligence been exercised in the pursuit of the
exploratory work for which his ships had been commissioned, Baudin would
have had the honour of discovering the unknown southern coast; for
Flinders was not allowed to leave England till July 17, 1801, fifty-one
days after the French actually arrived on the shores of Australia. The
prize of discovery slipped from Baudin's reach in consequence of his
"dawdling" methods, which brought about those "consequences facheuses et
irreparables" deplored by the naturalist.

Soon after the expedition left Mauritius, the officers and crew were
surprised to learn that the supplies of bread were short "and that for
the future ships' biscuit and salt meat would constitute the principal
part of the diet. The wine brought from France had also been nearly
consumed. Instead of the latter, a cheap, unwholesome drink, tafia,
bought at the island, was to be served out. This was amazing and
depressing news, considering the lavishness with which the Government had
fitted out the ships, and that nearly six weeks had been spent at a
French colonial possession. By this time, too, as is clear from Peron's
narrative, very little affection for the commander remained. The delays
already permitted had brought the expedition in face of the prospect of
exploring the southern coasts of New Holland in the winter season. Baudin
considered it unwise to undertake the work in Tasmanian seas, according
to the programme prepared for him, during months when severe storms would
probably be encountered; and he consequently determined not to sail
farther south on making Cape Leeuwin, but to explore the western coasts
of the continent, reserving the work which the Institute had put first to
be done in the following spring. Peron blamed him for this decision,
inasmuch as the course prescribed in the instructions was the result of
careful thought and extensive research. But though the procrastination
which had let slip the months best suited for exploration in southern
waters was caused by Baudin's own lack of energy and knowledge, his
resolve not to entrust his ships on an unknown coast, where he knew of no
secure harbours, in the months of tempest and cold, was prudent.

On making the Leeuwin, therefore, Baudin steered north. Geography Bay and
Cape Naturaliste, upon current maps, mark the commencement of his work on
the shores of Western Australia. From Sharks Bay the vessels pursued the
course of the first Englishman to explore any portion of the Australian
coast, the resolute, observant, tough old salt, William Dampier. The
biographical dictionary was here for the first time brought forth, and
the names within it were scattered liberally over the lands traversed.
Some of them have adhered, though Baudin's voyage along these shores was
by no means one of discovery, and there is clear evidence that names were
applied to parts which his ships did not investigate with any approach to
care. The Golfe Joseph Bonaparte of the large French chart, if traced
with some degree of particularity, would have led to several highly
important discoveries. But it was not carefully investigated at all, and
thus Baudin totally missed Bathurst Island and Melville Island, which
together stretch for over one hundred miles across the entrance to Van
Diemen's Gulf. Instead of definiteness of outline, the French charts
presented the world with a bristling array of names affixed to contours
which were cloudy and ill-defined, incomplete and inaccurate.

The most serious omission of all was the superb natural harbour of Port
Darwin, the finest anchorage in northern Australia. The French missed it
altogether. Yet here also they peppered their chart of the neighbouring
coasts with the names of their notable countrymen, as though they had
explored the environs meticulously. Baudin certainly lost a fine
opportunity of doing good original work in north-western Australia; and
had his real object been to find a suitable site for French settlement,
his research would have been amply rewarded had he found the port which
now bears the noble name of the greatest modern man of science. There is,
however, one French name which should not escape mention, since it serves
to remind us that Peron was writing his book at the time when, amidst the
smoke and flame and thunder of Trafalgar, two fleets locked in fierce
conflict were deciding momentous issues. Off the very broken coast of
what is now the Kimberley division of Western Australia, the French
styled a small cluster of rocky islets the Isles d'Arcole; and one of
these was named Ile Lucas, "in honour of the captain of the vessel which,
in the combat of the Redoutable against the Victory, has lately attained
so much honour."* (* Peron, Voyage de Decouvertes 1 136.) The English
reader will scarcely need to be reminded that it was by a shot from the
mizzen top of the Redoutable in that immortal fight that Nelson received
his death wound; and thus, by giving his name to a desolate rock, was it
sought to honour the captain of the ship that had accounted for the death
of a nation's hero. The French charting was so inferior that it is
scarcely possible to identify the Ile Lucas, which is not marked at all
on the large Carte Generale, probably because that was finished before
Trafalgar was fought; though the passage in Peron's book is somewhat
valuable as showing that the pepper-box sprinkling of names along coasts
explored with less sufficiency than pretentiousness was not entirely
Baudin's work. The commander of the expedition died before Trafalgar was
fought, so that, as on other grounds we have reason to infer, he was less
responsible for the nomenclature than Freycinet made it appear when that
feature of the work became somewhat discreditable.

Scurvy broke out on Le Geographe while the voyage along the western and
north-western coasts was in progress. Water, too, was becoming scarce,
and there seemed to be little opportunity of replenishing the supply on
these barren shores. The ship had likewise become separated from her
consort, Le Naturaliste, "owing to the false calculations of the chief
charged with directing their common movements," as averred by Freycinet.
Baudin decided to sail to the Dutch possession at Timor, where he might
be able to re-victual, take in fresh water, and enable his crew to
recover from their disease, which was fast reducing them to helplessness.
He therefore discontinued the further exploration of the north-west
coast, and, on August 18, entered Kupang.

There Le Naturaliste also appeared rather more than a month later, and
the two ships remained in the Dutch port till November 13, Baudin's
vessel having thus been at anchor fifty-six days. There was no hurrying.

In the month of October an English frigate, the Virginia, suddenly made
her appearance in the offing, with her decks cleared for action. Her
captain had heard of two French vessels being at Kupang, and, supposing
them to be lawful prize of war, he had clapped on all sail and descended
on the quiet little port with the joyful anticipation of finding brisk
business to do. But when he was informed that the two were exploring
ships, and had examined their passports, the English commander gallantly
expressed "his especial esteem and consideration for the object of our
voyage"; and, hearing that Captain Baudin was ill, even offered a present
of excellent wine. It was a shining, graceful little incident, pleasant
to read about in a story in which there is a surfeit of discontent,
disease, and bad feeling. The frigate, having satisfied herself that
there was no fighting to enjoy, made off without firing a shot.

After the long sojourn at Timor, it might have been expected that when
the expedition sailed for the south of Tasmania, the ships would be in a
clean and wholesome condition, the crews and staff in good health, and
the supplies of food and water abundant. But distressing fortunes
followed in Baudin's wake at every stage of the voyage. Leaving Kupang on
November 13, the vessels were only six days' sail from that port when
insufficiency of water led to revolting practices, described by Peron.
"We were so oppressed by the heat," he says, "and our ration of water was
so meagre, that unhappy sailors were seen drinking their urine. All the
representations of the ship's doctor with a view of increasing for the
time being the quantity of water supplied, and diminishing the ration
when cooler latitudes were reached, were useless."* (* Peron, 1824
edition 2 7.) It is not wonderful that scurvy broke out again with
increased virulence.

It is more pleasant to turn to the somewhat prolonged stay made in
southern Tasmania. At this time, it should be recollected, there was no
European settlement on the beautiful and fertile island which then bore
the name of the old Dutch governor of Java, Anthony Van Diemen. Indeed,
it was only so recently as 1798 that Flinders and Bass, in the Norfolk,
had demonstrated that it really was an island, by sailing round it. On
previous charts, principally founded on that of Cook--the map attached to
the history of Bougainville's voyage (1771) is particularly
interesting--it had been represented as a long projection from the
mainland, shaped like a pig's snout. Not only Abel Tasman, the discoverer
(1642), but the French explorers, Marion-Dufresne (1772) and
Dentrecasteaux (1791), and the English navigators, Cook, Furneaux, Cox,
and Bligh, had visited it.* (* See Backhouse Walker, Early Tasmania,
published by the Royal Society of Tasmania, Hobart 1902.) But as yet the
European had merely landed for fresh water, or had explored the south
coast very slightly as a matter of curiosity, and the aboriginal race was
still in unchallenged possession. Had Baudin been furnished with
instructions to look for a place for French settlement, very little
diligence and perspicacity would have enabled him to fix upon a spot
suitable to the point of perfection before the English at Port Jackson
knew of his whereabouts in these seas at all. He might have planted the
tricolour under the shadow of Mount Wellington, on the site of Hobart,
and furnished it from his ships with the requisites for endurance till he
could speed to the Isle of France and bring out the means of establishing
a stable settlement. But though the geographical work done in this region
was important and of good quality--Freycinet being on the spot--it does
not appear that any investigations were made beyond those natural to a
scientific expedition, and certainly no steps were taken by Baudin to
assert possessive rights. Yet there was no part of Australia as to which
the French could have made out stronger claims on moral grounds; for
though the voyage of the first French navigator who landed in Tasmania
was one hundred and thirty years later than Abel Tasman's discovery,
still it was a solid fact that both Marion-Dufresne and Dentrecasteaux
had contributed more than any other Europeans had done to a knowledge of
what Tasmania was, until Flinders and Bass in their dancing little 25 ton
sloop put an end to mystery and misconception, and placed the charming
island fairly for what it was on the map of the world.

Baudin's ships rounded South-East Cape on January 13 (1802), and sailed
up Dentrecasteaux Channel into Port Cygnet. Peron found plenty to
interest him in the fauna of this strange land, and above all in the
aboriginals with whom he was able to come in contact. His chapters on the
three months' stay in southern and eastern Tasmania are full of pleasant
passages, for the naturalist had a pretty talent for descriptive writing,
was pleased with the novel things he saw, and communicated his pleasure
to his pages. Though he lacked the large grasp, the fertile
suggestiveness, of great scientific travellers like Humboldt, Darwin, and
Alfred Russel Wallace, he was curious, well informed, industrious, and
sympathetic; and as he was the first trained anthropologist to enter into
personal relations with the Tasmanian blacks--a race now become extinct
under the shrivelling touch of European civilisation--his writings
concerning them have great value, quite apart from the pleasure with
which they may be read. A couple of pages describing Peron's first
meeting with the aboriginals when out looking for water, and the
amazement of the savages on encountering the whites--an incident given
with delightful humour, and at the same time showing close and careful
observation--will be likely to be welcomed by the reader.

"In pursuing our route we came to a little cove, at the bottom of which
appeared a pretty valley, which seemed to offer the prospect of finding
sweet water. That consideration decided M. H. Freycinet to land there. We
had scarcely put foot upon the shore, when two natives made their
appearance upon the peak of a neighbouring hill. In response to the signs
of friendship that we made to them, one of them leapt, rather than
climbed, from the height of the rock, and was in the midst of us in the
twinkling of an eye. He was a young man of from twenty-two to twenty-four
years of age, of generally strong build, having no other physical fault
than the extreme slenderness of legs and arms that is characteristic of
his race. His face had nothing ferocious or forbidding about its
expression; his eyes were lively and intelligent, and his manner
expressed at once good feeling and surprise. M. Freycinet having embraced
him, I did the same; but from the air of indifference with which he
received this evidence of our interest, it was easy to perceive that this
kind of reception had no signification for him. What appeared to affect
him more, was the whiteness of our skin. Wishing to assure himself,
doubtless, if our bodies were the same colour all over, he lifted up
successively our waistcoats and our shirts; and his astonishment
manifested itself in loud cries of surprise, and above all in an
extremely rapid stamping of the feet.

"But our boat appeared to interest him even more than our persons; and
after he had examined us for some minutes, he sprang into it. There,
without troubling himself at all about the sailors whom he found in it,
he appeared as if absorbed in his examination of the novelty. The
thickness of the planks, the curves, the rudder, the oars, the masts, the
sails--all these he observed with that silent and profound attention
which are the unquestionable signs of a deep interest and a reflective
admiration. just then, one of the boatmen, wishing doubtless to increase
his surprise, handed him a glass bottle filled with the arack which
formed part of the provisions of our search party. The shining of the
glass at first evoked a cry of astonishment from the savage, who took the
bottle and examined it for some moments. But soon, his curiosity
returning to the boat, he threw the bottle into the sea, without
appearing to have any other intention than that of getting rid of an
object to which he was indifferent; and at once resumed his examination.
Neither the cries of the sailor, who was concerned with the loss of the
bottle of arack, nor the promptness of one of his comrades to jump into
the water to recover it, appeared to concern him. He made various
attempts to push the boat free, but the mooring-rope which held it fast
making his efforts futile, he was constrained to abandon them, and
returned to us, after having given us the most striking example we had
ever had of attention and reflection among savage peoples."

Presently the companion of the young aboriginal came down the hill and
joined the group. He was an older man, about fifty years of age,
grey-bearded and grey-headed, with a frank and open countenance. He also
was permitted to satisfy himself that the Frenchmen were white-bodied as
well as white-faced; and being assured that there was nothing to fear
from these strange visitors, he signalled to two black women, who had
remained hidden during the earlier part of the interview. One was a gin
of forty, the second aged about twenty-six; both were naked. The younger
woman carried a black baby girl in a kangaroo skin, and Peron was pleased
to observe the affectionate care she showed for her child. A surprise as
great as that which the young male black had shown concerning the boat,
was manifested by the younger woman in a pair of gloves. The weather
being cold, a fire was lit, when one of the sailors, approaching it to
warm himself, took off a pair of fur gloves which he was wearing. "The
young woman, at the sight of that action, gave forth such a loud cry that
we were at first alarmed; but we were not long in recognising the cause
of her fright. We saw, from her expressions and gestures, that she had
taken the gloves for real hands, or at least for a kind of living skin,
that could be taken off, put in the pocket, and put on again at will. We
laughed much at that singular error; but we were not so much amused at
what the old man did a little later with a bottle of arack. As it
contained a great part of our drink, we were compelled to take it from
him, which he resented so much that he went off with his family, in spite
of all I could do to detain them longer."

At Bruni Island, Peron and a party of his compatriots had an adventure
with a party of twenty native women. He did not find them charming. All
were in the condition in which Actaeon saw Diana, when "all undrest the
shining goddess stood," though they did not, when discovered, glow with:

   "such blushes as adorn
The ruddy welkin or the purple morn."

Indeed, they appeared to be quite unaware that there was anything
remarkable about their deficiency of clothing. "A naked Duke of
Windlestraw addressing a naked House of Lords" might have shocked them,
but not merely because he was naked. They were greatly interested when,
as a sign of friendliness, one of the Frenchmen, the doctor of Le
Naturaliste, began to sing a song. The women squatted around, in
attitudes "bizarres et pittoresques," applauding with loud cries. They
were not, however, a group of ladies for whom the Frenchmen had any
admiration to spare. Their black skins smeared with fish oil, their
short, coarse, black hair, and their general form and features, were
repulsive. Two or three young girls of fifteen or sixteen years of age
the naturalist excepted from his generally ungallant expressions of
disgust. They were agreeably formed, and their expression struck him as
being more engaging, soft, and affectionate, "as if the better qualities
of the soul should be, even amidst hordes of savages, the peculiar
appanage of youth, grace, and beauty." Peron remarked that nearly all the
older women were marked with wounds, "sad results of bad treatment by
their ferocious spouses," for the black was wont to temper affection with
discipline, and to emphasise his arguments with a club.

If the black gins gave no satisfaction to the aesthetic sense of the
naturalist, his white skin appeared to be no less displeasing to them;
and one of them made a kindly effort to colour him to her fancy. She was
one of the younger women, and had been regarding him with perhaps the
thought that he was not beyond the scope of art, though Nature had
offended in making his tint so pale. Rouge, says Mr. Meredith, is "a form
of practical adoration of the genuine." Charcoal was this lady's
substitute for rouge. A face, to please her, should be black; and, with a
compassionate desire to improve on one of Nature's bad jobs, she set to
work. She approached Peron, took up some charred sticks, rubbed them in
her hand, and then made advances to apply the black powder to his face.
He gravely submitted--in the sacred cause of science, it may be
supposed--and one of his colleagues was favoured with similar treatment.
"Haply, for I am black," he might have exclaimed with Othello after the
treatment; and the makers of charcoal complexions were charmed with their
handiwork. "We appeared then to be a great subject of admiration for
these women; they seemed to regard us with a tender satisfaction," wrote
Peron; and the reflection occurred to him "that the white European skin
of which our race is so proud is really a defect, a sort of deformity,
which must in these distant climates give place to the hue of charcoal,
dull red ochre, or clay." Bonaparte would not have concurred; for he, as
Thibaudeau tells us, emphatically told his Council of State, "I am for
the white race because I am a white man myself; that is an argument quite
good enough for me." It was hardly an argument at all; but it sufficed.

The expedition encountered extremely bad weather along the eastern coast
of Tasmania; where, also, Captain Baudin was too ill to superintend the
navigation in person. He shut himself up in his cabin, and left the ship
to his lieutenant, Henri de Freycinet. Le Naturaliste was separated from
her consort during a furious gale which raged on March 7 and 8, and the
two vessels did not meet again till both reached Port Jackson. While
making for Bass Strait, Le Geographe fell in with a small vessel engaged
in catching seals, with whose captain the French had some converse. He
told them that the British Government had sent out special instructions
to Port Jackson that, should the French exploring ships put in there,
they were to be received "with all the regard due to the nature of their
mission, and to the dignity of the nation to which they belonged"* (*
Peron, 1824 edition 2 175.)--surely a noble piece of courtesy from the
Government of a people with whom the French were then at war. It was this
intimation, there can be no doubt, that a month later determined Baudin
to go to Sydney, for Captain Hamelin of Le Naturaliste was not aware of
his intention to do so, as will appear from the following chapter. Bass
Strait was entered on March 27, and the ship followed the southern coast
of Australia until the meeting with Flinders in Encounter Bay, as
described in the earlier part of this book.

By this time, as has been related, scurvy was wreaking frightful havoc
among the crew. Before the Encounter Bay incident occurred, the French
sailors had expressed so much disgust with their putrid meat, weevilly
biscuit, and stinking water, that some of them threw their rations
overboard, even in the presence of the captain, preferring to endure the
pangs of hunger rather than eat such revolting food. After Baudin had
made those investigations which his means permitted in the region of the
two large gulfs, the winter season was again approaching, when high winds
and tempestuous seas might be anticipated. It was therefore hoped by all
on board that when the commandant decided to steer for the shelter and
succour of Port Jackson, he would, as it was only sensible that he
should, take the short route through Bass Strait. In view of the
distressed state of his company, it was positively cruel to think of
doing otherwise. But there was, it seems, a peculiar vein of perversity
in Baudin's character, which made him prone to do that which everybody
wished him not to do. We may disregard many of the disparaging sentences
in which Peron refers to "notre commandant"--never by name--because Peron
so evidently detested Baudin that he is a doubtful witness in matters of
conduct and character. We must also give due weight to the fact that we
have no statement of Baudin's point of view on any matter for which he
was blamed by colleagues who were at enmity with him. But even so, we
have his unquestionable actions upon which to form a judgment; and it is
difficult to characterise by any milder term than stupidity his
determination to sail to Port Jackson from Kangaroo Island round by the
south of Tasmania, a route at least six hundred miles out of his straight
path. That he came to this decision after having himself sailed through
Bass Strait from east to west, and thus learnt that the navigation was
free from difficulty; when he had in his possession the charts of Bass
and Flinders showing a clear course; during a period of storms when he
would be quite certain to encounter worse weather by sailing farther
south; when his crew were positively rotting with the scorbutic
pestilence that made life all but intolerable to them, and attendance
upon them almost too loathsome for endurance by the ship's surgeon; and
when his supplies were at starvation limit in point of quantity and
vermin-riddled in respect of quality that he resolved to take the long,
stormy, southern route in face of these considerations, seems hardly to
admit of explanation or excuse. "A resolution so singular spread
consternation on board," wrote Peron; and it is not wonderful that it
did. The consequence was that the voyage to Port Jackson made a story of
privations pitiful to read. The bare fact that it took Baudin from May 8
to June 20, forty-three days, to sail from Kangaroo Island to Sydney,
whilst Flinders in the Investigator, despite contrary winds, covered the
distance by the Bass Strait route in thirty days (April 9 to May 9),
including several days spent at King Island and Port Phillip, is
sufficient to show how much Baudin's obtuse temper contributed to
aggravate the distress of his people.

Peron described the weather during the voyage southward as "frightful."

"And now the storm blast came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o'er-taking wings,
And chased us south along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe,
And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roar'd the blast,
And southward aye we fled."

Torrents of very cold rain fell, furious squalls lashed the sea to a
boil, thick fogs obscured the atmosphere; and the ship had to be worked
by men "covered with sores and putrid ulcers, each day seeing the number
of the sick augmented." There was a short rest in Adventure Bay, Bruni
Island, for the purpose of procuring fresh water on May 20, and when the
order to sail again was given, the crew were so much enfeebled by disease
that it took them four hours to weigh the anchor. On the east coast more
storms came to harass the unfortunate men. A paragraph in Peron's own
terms will convey a sufficient sense of the agony endured on the stricken

"On June 2 and 3 the weather became very bad. Showers of rain succeeded
each other incessantly, and squalls blew with a violence that we had
never experienced before. On the 4th, during the whole day, the weather
was so frightful that, accustomed as we had become to the fury of
tempests, this last made us forget all that had preceded. Never before
had the squalls followed each other with such rapidity; never had the
billows been so tumultuous. Our ship, smitten by them, at every instant
seemed about to break asunder under the shock of the impact. In the
twinkling of an eye our foremast snapped and fell overboard, and all the
barricading that we had erected to break the force of the wind was
smashed. Even our anchors were lifted from the catheads despite the
strength of the ropes which held them. It was necessary to make them more
secure, and the ten men, who were all that were left us to work the ship,
were engaged in this work during a great part of the day. During the
night the tempest was prolonged by furious gales. The rain fell in
torrents; the sea rose even higher; and enormous waves swept over our
decks. The black darkness did not permit the simplest work to be done
without extreme difficulty, and the whole of the interior of the vessel
was flooded by sea-water. Four men were compelled to enter the hospital,
leaving only six in a condition to carry out the orders of the officer on
the bridge, and these unfortunates themselves dropped from sheer
exhaustion and fatigue. Between decks, the sick men lay about, and the
air was filled with their groans. A picture more harrowing never
presented itself to the imagination. The general consternation added to
the horror of it. We had nearly reached the point of being unable to
control the movements of the ship amidst the fury of the waves; parts of
the rigging were broken with every manoeuvre; and despite all our efforts
we could scarcely shift our sails. For a long time our commandant had had
no rest. It was absolutely necessary to get out of these stormy seas at
the extremity of the southern continent, and hasten on our course for
Port Jackson. 'At this time,' says the commandant in his journal, and the
fact was only too true, 'I had not more than four men in a fit condition
to remain on duty, including the officer in charge.' The ravages of the
scurvy can be estimated from these words. Not a soul among us was exempt
from the disease; even the animals we had on board were afflicted by it;
some, including two rabbits and a monkey, had died from it."

Slowly, painfully, as though the ship herself were diseased, like the
miserable company on board, the coast was traversed, until at last, on
June 20, Le Geographe stood off Port Jackson heads. Even then, with the
harbour of refuge in sight, the crew were so paralysed by their
affliction that they were positively unable to work her into port.* (* An
astonishing statement indeed, but here are Peron's words: "Depuis
plusieurs jours, nous nous trouvions par le travers du port Jackson sans
pouvoir, a cause de la faiblesse de nos matelots, executer les manoeuvres
necessaires pour y entrer.") But the fact that a ship in distress was
outside the heads was reported to Governor King, who was expecting Le
Geographe to arrive, and who had doubtless learnt that there was scurvy
aboard from Flinders, whose quick eye would not have failed to perceive
some trace of the sad state of affairs when he boarded the vessel in
Encounter Bay. Accordingly King sent out a boat's crew of robust
blue-jackets from the Investigator; and Peron records with what trembling
joy the afflicted Frenchmen saw the boat approaching on that June
morning. Soon the British tars climbed aboard, sails were trimmed, the
tiller was grasped by a strong hand, a brisk British officer took charge,
and the ship was brought through the blue waters of Port Jackson, where,
in Neutral Bay, her anchor was dropped.

It is not overstating the case to say that Le Geographe was snatched from
utter destruction by the prompt kindness of the British governor. A
slight prolongation of the voyage would have rendered her as helpless as
if peopled by a phantom crew; and she must have been blown before the
wind until dashed to fragments on the rocks on some uninhabited part of
the coast. The extremity of abject powerlessness had unquestionably been
reached when the wide entrance to Port Jackson could not be negotiated.

Peron regarded the dreadful condition of the vessel as furnishing a great
and terrible lesson to navigators. "These misfortunes," he wrote, "had no
other cause than the neglect of our chief of the most indispensable
precautions relative to the health of the men. He neglected the orders of
the Government in that regard; he neglected the instructions which had
been furnished to him in Europe; he imposed, at all stages of the voyage,
the most horrible privations upon his crew and his sick people." The
naturalist concluded his doleful chapter of horrors by quoting the words
of the British navigator, Vancouver, who was one of Cook's officers on
his third voyage: "It is to the inestimable progress of naval hygiene
that the English owe, in great part, the high rank that they hold to-day
among the nations." He might also have quoted, had he been aware of it,
an excellent saying of Nelson's: "It is easier for an officer to keep men
healthy than for a physician to cure them."


Le Naturaliste at Sydney.
Boullanger's boat party.
Curious conduct of Baudin.
Le Naturaliste sails for Mauritius, but returns to Port Jackson.
Re-union of Baudin's ships.
Hospitality of Governor King.
Peron's impressions of the British settlement.
Morand, the banknote forger.
Baudin shows his charts and instructions to King.
Departure of the French ships.
Rumours as to their objects.
King's prompt action.
The Cumberland sent after them.
Acting Lieutenant Robbins at King Island.
The flag incident.
Baudin's letters to King.
His protestations.
Views on colonisation.
Le Naturaliste sails for Europe.

Le Naturaliste had been unable to rejoin her consort after the tempest of
March 7 and 8. She being a slow sailer, the risk of the two vessels
parting company was constant, and as there had already been one
separation, before the sojourn at Timor, Baudin should have appointed a
rendezvous. But he had neither taken this simple precaution, nor had he
even intimated to Captain Hamelin the route that he intended to pursue.
When, therefore, the storm abated, the commander of the second ship
neither knew where to look for Le Geographe, nor had he any certain
information to enable him to follow her.

Before making up his mind as to what he should do, Captain Hamelin had
the good luck to pick up an open boat containing Boullanger, one of the
scientific staff of Le Geographe, a lieutenant, and eight sailors. They
were absent from the ship when the storm burst, and Baudin had sailed
away without them. His conduct on this occasion had been inexplicable.
Boullanger and his party had gone out in the boat to chart a part of the
coast with more detail than was possible from the deck of the corvette.
But they had not been away more than a quarter of an hour, according to
Peron, when Baudin, "without any apparent reason," bore off the coast.
Then came the tempest, night fell, the following days were too stormy for
putting off another boat to search for the missing men; and in the end,
Baudin left them to their fate. They had no chart or compass, merely
enough food and water to last for a day, and were abandoned on an
uninhabited coast, in an open boat, in bitterly cold, squally weather,
with the rain falling in sheets at frequent intervals. Here again,
British kindness saved the Frenchmen. Before having the good fortune to
perceive the sails of Le Naturaliste, the starved, drenched, and
miserable men had attracted the attention of a sealing brig, the
Snow-Harrington, from Sydney. Her skipper, Campbell, took them on board,
supplied them with warm food, and offered to convey them to Port Jackson
forthwith. They remained on the Snow-Harrington for the night, but on the
following morning sighted Le Naturaliste, and, after profusely thanking
Captain Campbell for his generosity, soon picked her up.

Hamelin, having no instructions as to where he should go, resolved to
devote himself to work in Bass Strait. Eight days were spent in
Westernport, the limit of Bass's discoveries in January 1798; and the
name French Island preserves the memory of their researches there. They
found the soil fertile, the vegetation abundant, the timber plentiful;
the port was, they considered, "one of the most beautiful that it would
be possible to find, and it unites all the advantages which will make it
some day a precious possession."

But the supplies on board Le Naturaliste were becoming exhausted, and,
being still without news of his chief, Hamelin decided to sail for Port
Jackson. He arrived there on April 24. As far as he knew, however, the
war between England and France still raged. News of the Treaty of Amiens
was not received at Sydney till the middle of June. He was therefore
gravely concerned about the reception that would be accorded him. He had
his passport, which protected him from molestation, but he feared that
the British would "at least refuse him succour," of which he was
desperately in need. Evidently the Snow-Harrington had not communicated
to him the same welcome news as the sealing craft had given to Baudin,
concerning the instructions of King George's Government.

How different was his welcome from his anticipation! He found "nothing
but sweet peace and gentle visitation." "The English received him, from
the first instant, with that great and cordial generosity which the
perfection of European civilisation can alone explain, and which it alone
can produce. The most distinguished houses in the colony were thrown open
to our companions, and during the entire length of their sojourn, they
experienced that delicate and affectionate hospitality, which honours
equally those who bestow and those who receive it." So Peron testified;
but one cannot transcribe his words without a reflection on the sort of
"European hospitality" that Matthew Flinders received by way of contrast
when he was compelled to seek, shelter in Mauritius.

Le Naturaliste was lying at anchor when Flinders' arrived with the
Investigator in May. Learning from him of the meeting with Le Geographe
in Encounter Bay in the previous month, and inferring that Baudin would
sail for Mauritius after finishing what he had to do on the southern
coast, Hamelin determined also to make his way to the French colony. He
left Sydney harbour on May 18, with the intention of rounding the
southern extremity of Tasmania, and striking across the Indian Ocean from
that point. But here again fearful storms were encountered. "The sea was
horrible; the winds blew with fury and in squalls; torrents of rain fell
incessantly"; and, increasing the misfortunes, the westerly winds were so
strong at the time when the ship was endeavouring to turn westward, that
no headway could be made. Hamelin's men were already on short rations,
but even so the supplies would not suffice for a voyage to Mauritius,
unless a fairly rapid passage could be made. The contrary winds, fogs,
and storms of "the roaring forties" offered no such assurance; and the
French captain, casting a "longing, lingering look behind" at the
comforts and hospitalities of Port Jackson, determined to double back on
his tracks. He re-traversed the east coast of Tasmania, and entered Port
Jackson for the second time on July 3, to find that his chief and the
leading ship of the expedition had been snugly berthed there during the
past fortnight. "And so," Peron comments, "were united for the second
time, and by the most inconceivable luck, two ships which, owing to the
obstinacy of the commandant, had had no appointed rendezvous, and were
twice forced to navigate independently at two periods of the voyage when
it would have been most advantageous for them to act in concert."

As the two French vessels lay at Sydney for nearly six months, during
which time the officers and men mingled freely with the population of the
colony, whilst the naturalists and artists occupied themselves busily
with the work of their special departments, the occurrences have a
two-fold interest for one who wishes to appreciate the significance of
Baudin's expedition. There is, first, the interest arising from the
observations of so intelligent a foreign observer as Peron* was,
concerning the British colony within fifteen years after its foundation;
and there is, secondly, the special interest pertaining to the reception
and treatment of the expedition by the governing authorities, their
suspicions as to its motives, and the consequences which arose therefrom.
(* Curiously enough, there was another Peron who visited Port Jackson in
a French ship in 1796, and gave an interesting account of it in a book
which he wrote--Memoires du Capitaine Peron, two volumes Paris 1824. But
the two men were not related. The nautical Captain Peron was born at
Brest in 1769.)

Apart from Peron's writings, we have a considerable body of documentary
material, in the form of letters and despatches, which must be
considered. We cannot complain of an insufficiency of evidence. It covers
the transactions with amplitude; it reveals purposes fully; the story is

What Peron saw of the infant settlement filled him with amazement and
admiration. "How could we fail to be surprised at the state of that
interesting and flourishing colony," cried the naturalist. It was only so
recently as January 26, 1788, that Captain Arthur Phillip had entered the
commodious and beautiful harbour which is not eclipsed by any on the
planet. Yet the French found there plentiful evidences of prosperity and
comfort, and of that adaptable energy which lies at the root of all
British success in colonisation. Master Thorne, in the sixteenth century,
expressed the resolute spirit of that energy in a phrase: "There is no
land uninhabitable, nor sea innavigable"; and in every part of the globe
this British spirit has applied itself to many a land that looked
hopeless at first, and has frequently found it to be one:

  "whose rich feet are mines of gold,
Whose forehead knocks against the roof of stars."

We need hardly concern ourselves with Peron's survey of the
administrative system, social factors, education, commerce, agriculture,
fisheries,, finance, and political prospects, valuable as these are for
the student of Australian history. Nor would it further our purpose to
extract at length his views on the reformative efficacy of the convict
system, as to which he was certainly over sanguine. The benevolent
naturalist dealt with the convicts in the next paragraph but one from
that in which he had described the growing wool trade; and it would
almost seem that observations which he had intended to make relative to
sheep and lambs had by chance strayed amongst the enthusiastic sentences
in which he related how transportation humanised criminals. "All these
unfortunates, lately the refuse and shame of their country, have become
by the most inconceivable of metamorphoses, laborious cultivators, happy
and peaceful citizens"; "nowhere does one hear of thieves and murderers";
"the most perfect security prevails throughout the colony"; "redoubtable
brigands, who were so long the terror of the Government of their country,
and were repulsed from the breast of European society, have, under
happier influences, cast aside their anti-social manners"; and so forth.
On this subject Peron is by no means a witness whom the sociologist can
trust; though it should not escape notice that the generous temper in
which he described what he saw of the convict system in operation, and
his view of it as a noble experiment in reformation, indicate his desire
to appraise sympathetically the uses to which the British were putting
their magnificent possessions in the South Seas.

Captain Baudin's impressions of the young colony, contained in his letter
to Jussieu,* (* Moniteur, 22nd Fructidor, Revolutionary Year 11.
(September 9, 1803).) are also interesting, and may with advantage be
quoted, as they appear to have escaped the attention of previous writers.
"I could not regard without admiration," he wrote, "the immense work that
the English have done during the twelve years that they have been
established at Port Jackson. Although it is true that they commenced with
large resources ["grands moyens"; but, indeed, they did not!] and
incurred great expenditure, it is nevertheless difficult to conceive how
they have so speedily attained to the state of splendour and comfort in
which they now find themselves. It is true that Nature has done much for
them in the beauty and security of the harbour upon which their principal
establishment is erected; but the nature of the soil in the vicinity has
compelled them to penetrate the interior of the country to find land
suitable for the various crops which abundantly furnish them with the
means of subsistence, and enable them to supply the wants of the European
vessels which the fisheries and commerce attract to this port."

The French visitors were far more genial in their view of the affairs of
the colony than many British writers have been. It was concerning this
very period that Dr. Lang said that the population consisted, apart from
convicts, "chiefly of those who sold rum and those who drank it."

The reader must not, however, be hurried away from the subject of the
convict population without the pleasure of an introduction to a
delightful rascal, under sentence for forgery, with whom Peron had an
interview. The ironical humour of the passage will lighten a page; and
the plausible character revealed in it might have escaped from a comedy
of Moliere. Morand was his name, and his crime--"son seul crime," wrote
Peron in italics--was in having "wished to associate himself with the
Bank of England without having an account there."

Morand shall be permitted to tell, in his own bland, ingenuous way, how,
like a patriot, he tried to achieve financially what Bonaparte failed to
do by military genius; and doubtless in after years he reflected that if
his own efforts brought him to Sydney Cove, Napoleon's landed him at St.

"The war," said Morand, "broke out between Great Britain and France; the
forces of the two nations were grappling; but it appeared to me to be
easier to destroy our rival by finance than by arms. I resolved,
therefore, as a good patriot, to undertake that ruin, and to accomplish
it in the very heart of London. If I had succeeded," he cried with
enthusiasm, "France would have held me in the greatest honour; and
instead of being branded as a brigand, I should have been proclaimed the
avenger of my country. Scarcely had I arrived in England when I commenced
my operations; and at first they succeeded beyond all my hopes. Assisted
by an Irishman not less skilful than myself, and who, like me, was
actuated by a noble patriotism, desiring even more fervently than I did
the downfall of England, I was soon enabled to counterfeit the notes of
the Bank with such perfection that it was even difficult for us to
distinguish those which came from our own press from the genuine paper. I
was at the very point of a triumph; all my preparations were made for
inundating England with our manufactured notes; nothing was wanting
except some information in regard to numbering them--when my companion,
whom up till then I had regarded as AN HONEST MAN,* (* The italics are
Peron's.) took it into his head to steal some of the notes, which were as
yet defective, inasmuch as they lacked a few trifling but indispensable
formalities. He was arrested almost immediately; and as he had behaved
dishonourably towards me, he did not hesitate to relapse into sin in
another aspect. He revealed everything to the authorities; I was arrested
and plunged into prison with him; all my instruments, all our bank notes,
were seized--and Great Britain was saved from the ruin which I had
prepared for her!

"Evident as were the proofs of our project, I did not despair, thanks to
the nature of the criminal laws of England, of escaping death; but such
were the feebleness and fright of my wretched partner, that I had no
doubt of our common downfall if I were compelled to appear before the
tribunals in association with that cowardly wretch. To obviate the
aggravation of my own misfortunes, which could not have prevented his, I
determined to endeavour to get rid of him; and, as the author of both our
disasters, it was quite right that he should suffer. In a speech to him
that was very pathetic, therefore, I tried to prove to him, that, our
death being inevitable, we had nothing better to think about than how
best to sustain the sadness and ignominy that had come upon us; and that,
death for death, it was better to fall like men of honour than under the
hand of the executioner. The Irishman was moved, but not yet resolved. I
then made him feel that if his own infamy did not touch him, he ought at
least to spare his children the disgrace of being pointed at as the
offspring of one who had been hanged; and that, if he had not been able
to leave them wealth, he should at least, by an act of generous devotion,
save them from that shame.

"These last reflections inflamed the Irishman with a fine courage. We
managed to procure a strong corrosive acid; I feigned to take some of it;
but he took it really, and died; when, disembarrassed from that silly
rascal, I avoided the gallows which assuredly awaited me had I been tried
with him. I was, instead, sentenced to transportation to this colony,
where I am condemned to pass the remainder of my days. But the period of
my servitude in prison is now finished; I follow with advantage two of my
early trades, those of goldsmith and clockmaker.* (* He was an
emancipist; that is, a convict liberated from prison confinement on
probation. His two "knaves" were also convicts. Transported men could
often earn their liberty by exemplary behaviour. When Flinders went north
in the Investigator, he was allowed to take nine convicts with him as
part of his crew, on the promise that a good report from him would earn
them their liberty; but that experiment was not a marked success. Morand,
as I understand it, escaped the death penalty because the suicide of his
companion prevented his being tried for conspiracy. The punishment for
forgery was transportation.) The two knaves who work for me increase my
profits threefold. In a few years I shall be one of the wealthiest
proprietors in the colony; and I should be one of the happiest if I were
not constantly tormented with regret at having so unfortunately failed in
an honourable enterprise, and at being regarded on that account as a vile
criminal, even by those among you, my compatriots, who cannot know the
noble principles [sic "nobles principes"!] which actuated my conduct, or
who cannot appreciate them."

As the good Peron does not mention discovering that his pockets had been
picked after his interview with this choice and humorous rogue, it will
be agreed that he escaped from the interview with singular good fortune.

The naturalist presented a lively picture of the port of Sydney, which
even in those very early days was becoming a place of consequence. There
were ships from the Thames and the Shannon, brought out to engage in
whaling, which was an important industry then and for many years after;
ships from China; ships laden with coal bound for India and the Cape;
ships engaged in the Bass Strait sealing trade; ships which pursued a
profitable but risky business in contraband with the Spanish South
American colonies; ships fitting out for the North American fur trade;
ships destined for enterprises among the South Sea Islands; and, lastly,
there was the ship of "the intrepid M. Flinders" getting ready to
continue the navigations of that explorer in northern and north-western
Australia. "All this ensemble of great operations, all these movements of
vessels, give to these shores a character of importance and activity that
we did not expect to meet with in regions so little known in Europe, and
our interest redoubled with our admiration." Above all, one is glad to
notice, Peron was interested in the boat in which George Bass had
accomplished that "audacieuse navigation," the discovery of Bass Strait,
in 1797 and 1798. It was, at the date of this visit to Sydney, preserved
in the port with a sort of "religious respect," and small souvenirs made
out of a portion of its keel were regarded as precious relics by those
who possessed them. Governor King believed that he could not make a more
honourable present to Baudin than a piece of the wood of the boat
enclosed in a silver frame, upon which he had had engraved a short
statement of the facts of Bass's remarkable exploit.

Throughout the long stay made by Baudin's vessels, the utmost kindness
was shown to the whole company by the British. The governor himself, and
the principal citizens, were hospitable; the scientists were permitted to
go wherever they chose; and guides were provided for them on their inland
excursions; and the scurvy-tortured sailors were attended by Dr. Thomson,
the chief medical officer of the colony, with "the most touching
activity." In addition to this, Governor King gave the French commandant
unlimited credit to obtain whatever stores he needed, even supplying him
with official requisition forms which he could fill up at his own
pleasure; "and these schedules, without any other guarantee than the
signature of the commandant, were accepted by all the inhabitants with
the most entire confidence." The generosity of King in this respect was
all the greater, in that the Government stores were for the time being
short of requirements, and the governor had to reduce temporarily the
rations of his own people in order to share with the French. The
settlement was not yet self-supporting, and the delay of supply ships,
through storms or other hindrances, meant "short commons" for all. At the
time of the arrival of the French, the stock of wheat was very low,
because floods on the Hawkesbury had destroyed a large part of the
harvest; and to meet the requirements of one hundred and seventy extra
men taxed the resources of the administration somewhat severely.

But what King had to offer he gave with a graceful liberality. "Although
you will not find abundant supplies of what are most acceptable to those
coming off so long a voyage, yet I offer you a sincere welcome," he had
written; and, happy as he was to be able to announce that news of the
peace had been received on the day previous to Baudin's arrival--no doubt
the vessel that brought the despatch reported to the governor that Le
Geographe was near the heads--"yet the continuance of the war would have
made no difference in my reception of your ships, and offering every
relief and assistance in my power." Not only Baudin and Peron
acknowledged gratefully the fine courtesy shown by the British, but other
members of the expedition also expressed themselves as thankful for the
consideration extended to them. Bailly the geologist made an excursion to
the Hawkesbury and the mountains, in the interest of his own science,
when boats, oarsmen, guide, interpreter, and everything were furnished by
the Government, "our chief having refused us even the food necessary for
the journey." No more could have been done for a British expedition.

Baudin obtained permission for his officers to erect their tents for the
making of astronomical observations at the same place as had been
appointed for the tents of Flinders' officers, one of whom, delegated for
this service, was the young John Franklin. This proximity of men engaged
in similar work seems to have extended friendly feelings amongst them. It
was possibly on occasions of their meeting in this manner that Flinders
showed his charts to Baudin to illustrate what the Investigator had
already done; and it was after an examination of the drawings that
Freycinet made a remark that reflected the regret of a keen officer for
the procrastination that conduced to the failure of their own expedition
in a geographical sense. "Ah, captain," said Freycinet, "if we had not
been kept so long picking up shells and collecting butterflies at Van
Diemen's Land, you would not have discovered the south coast before us."*
(* Flinders, Voyage 1 190.) That was a mild statement of the case. If
Baudin had applied himself to his task of exploration with diligence
intelligently directed, he would have discovered the south coast before
Flinders reached Australian waters. It was at this time, also, that the
French officers learnt of the existence of Port Phillip, and probably
obtained a copy of a chart of it.

The perfect friendliness prevailing during the whole period of the stay
of the discovery ships was disturbed by only two incidents, neither of
which is of surviving importance. One consisted of a charge against
junior officers of having sold ashore rum which had been purchased, by
permission of the governor, for use during the voyage. The case was
investigated, the accusations broke down, and apologies were made to the
officers affected. The second incident arose out of a misunderstanding of
the French method of honouring the British flag on King George's
birthday. It was an affair of no consequence, and a brief explanation
soon put matters right. A British officer deemed the French mode of
"dressing" their ships to be disrespectful, but Baudin was able to show
that what was done was in accordance with the regulations of his
country's navy, which provided that "the place of honour for the flag of
a foreign nation which we intend to distinguish, must be on the starboard
of the main-yard arm." The fact that these two trivial incidents were the
only recorded elements of misunderstanding during a period of nearly six
months, at a time when animosities between English and French people--and
especially sailors--were extraordinarily acute, testifies to the good
manners of the French, the hospitable feeling of the English, and the
pleasant temper of all parties.

Governor King, notwithstanding his benevolent disposition, was mindful of
his responsibilities. Before a French sail was sighted he had been
advised of the fact that Baudin's ships were to visit Australian waters,
and it is quite clear that, in common with most of his contemporaries, he
was very suspicious of Gallic designs. He was a naval officer himself,
and British naval men at that period were pretty well unanimously of
Nelson's opinion, when he wrote to Hugh Elliot, "I never trust a Corsican
or a Frenchman; I would give the devil ALL the good ones to take the
remainder." The arrival of Flinders in the Investigator on May 9, and his
reports as to the presence of the French on the southern coast, made the
governor wary and watchful; and on May 21 he wrote to the Duke of
Portland suggesting the establishment of a colony at the newly discovered
Port Phillip. "I am more solicitous respecting forming this settlement
from the probability of the French having it in contemplation to make a
settlement on the north-west coast, which I cannot help thinking is the
principal object of their researches."* (* Historical Records of New
South Wales. The north-west coast referred to is, of course, north-west
Tasmania.) The letter exhibits the suspicion in King's mind, and his
alertness to frustrate any attempt to threaten the interests and security
of the colony under his charge by the planting of a foreign settlement in
its neighbourhood.

But Captain Baudin was very frank. In his first letter to the governor,
dated June 23, and written on the day after his arrival in port, he
requested permission to remain for some time, "as we all want a little
rest, having been at sea for nine consecutive months"; and he added the
assurance that "I shall at the first interview it will be your pleasure
to grant me, furnish you with all the information which may be of
interest to you, concerning the expedition which I am making by order of
the French Government."

Baudin kept his promise. He handed over to King his journals, "in which
were contained all his orders from the first idea of his voyage taking
place," and also the whole of the drawings made on the voyage.* (* King's
letter to Banks, Historical Records of New South Wales 5 133.) The
governor was able to examine these at his leisure, and that he made use
of the opportunity is apparent from his brief summary of the orders. "His
object was, by his orders, the collection of objects of natural history
from this country at large, and the geography of Van Diemen's Land. The
south and south-west coast, as well as the north and north-west coast,
were his particular objects. It does not appear by his orders that he was
at all instructed to touch here, which I do not think he intended if not
obliged by distress." Evidently he did not, as was indicated by Hamelin's
resolve to go to Mauritius in May. King had to confess, after a perusal
of the papers, that he was left with merely "general ideas" on the nature
of the French visit to Van Diemen's Land. These, however, he communicated
to Baudin, who "informed me that he knew of no idea that the French had
of settling on any part or side of this continent."* (* King's letter to
Banks, Historical Records of New South Wales 5 133.) It does not appear
that the governor showed any of the French papers or charts to Flinders,
whose statements in his book indicate that he had not seen them.

The governor, then, commenced his relations with the French commandant by
being doubtful and vigilant; but frequent personal interviews, and an
examination of the whole of the ships' orders, journals, and charts,
convinced him that the suspicions were not justified, and that there were
no designs, about which he need be concerned, behind the pacific
professions of the voyagers. From this time forth Baudin and King met
almost daily; and from the beginning to the end of the visit the governor
had not the faintest reason for doubting the good faith of his guests. On
July 11 he gave his authority for Baudin to purchase the little
colonial-built Casuarina, with which to explore shallow waters, thus
facilitating the pursuit of the objects of the expedition.

Baudin's letter of farewell was a worthy acknowledgment of the benefits
he had received. On leaving the colony," he wrote, "I bequeath to the
French nation the duty of offering to you the thanks which are due to you
as governor for all you have done as well for ourselves as for the
success of the expedition; but it is for me to assure you how valuable
your friendship has been and will ever be to me...It will be a
satisfaction for me to correspond with you from whatever country events
may bring me to. It is, as you know, the only means which men who love
and esteem one another can make use of, and it will be the one of which
we shall reciprocally avail ourselves if, on your part, I have been able
by my conduct to inspire you with the feelings which yours has inspired
me with."* (* Historical Records 4 1006.) Baudin also wrote a general
letter, addressed to the administrators of the French colonies of
Mauritius and Reunion, setting forth the aids which Governor King had
rendered to his people, and expressing the hope that if at any time a
British ship whose commander carried a copy of the letter should be
compelled to call at either island, it would be shown that the French
were not less hospitable and benevolent.* (* Ibid 4 968.) Twelve signed
copies of this letter* (* Ibid page 133.) were given to King, who,
however, does not seem to have given one to Flinders when he sailed with
the Cumberland. It is doubtful whether the possession of one would have
made any difference in General Decaen's treatment of the English
navigator, as he was quite well aware of the services rendered to
Baudin's expedition by the British at Port Jackson. In fact, it is not
known that King made any use of the document. A copy of it was found
among his papers after his death.

It was not till after Le Geographe and Le Naturaliste had sailed away
(November 18) that a piece of gossip came to King's ears that caused him
uneasiness. According to the rumour, Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson, of the
New South Wales corps, had stated that one of the French officers had
told him that one of the purposes of the expedition was to fix upon a
site for a settlement in Van Diemen's Land. Paterson did not report this
story to the governor, as it was his obvious duty to do were it true that
he had been so informed. Had he reported it, King could have confronted
Baudin with witnesses before his ships left the harbour. "I should have
required a positive explanation from the French commodore, and would have
taken a vessel up to have preceded any attempt of that kind they might
have in contemplation."

King sent for Paterson, and questioned him as to what he had heard. His
excuse for not personally communicating the story which he had allowed to
drift to the governor's ears by chance, was that he thought that what he
had heard must have come to King's knowledge also: a supine and almost
flippant explanation of neglect in a matter which was serious if the
allegations were true. He affirmed also that one of the French officers
had pointed out to him on a chart the very place where they intended to
settle. It was in what is now known as Frederick Henry Bay, in the south
of Tasmania.* (* Backhouse Walker, Early Tasmania page 15.)

The governor took prompt action. He at once fitted out the armed schooner
Cumberland--the vessel in which Flinders afterwards sailed to
Mauritius--and placed her under the command of Acting-Lieutenant Robbins.
She carried a company of seventeen persons in all, including the
Surveyor-General, Charles Grimes; for Robbins was also instructed to take
the schooner on to Port Phillip after finding the French, and to have a
complete survey made.

Robbins was directed to ascertain where the French ships were; to hand to
Baudin a letter, and to lay formal claim to the whole of Van Diemen's
Land for the British Crown; to erect the British flag wherever he landed;
and to sow seeds in anticipation of the needs of settlers, whom it was
intended to send in the Porpoise at a later date. It was a bold move, for
had Baudin's intentions been such as he was now suspected of
entertaining, the one hundred and seventy men under his command would
surely have had little difficulty in disposing of the handful whom young
Robbins led.

But no assertion of force was necessary at all, and one can hardly read
the letters and despatches bearing upon the incident without feeling that
the proceedings fairly lent themselves to the ridicule which the
nimble-witted French officers applied to them. Baudin and his people had
not gone to Frederick Henry Bay; they had not planted the tricolour
anywhere in Tasmania; they had not even called at any port in that
island. Instead, they were discovered quietly charting, catching insects,
and collecting plants at Sea Elephants Bay, on the east of King Island,
which, it will be remembered, they had missed on the former part of their

But Acting-Lieutenant Robbins was young, and was surcharged with a sense
of the great responsibility cast upon him. A more experienced officer,
having delivered his message, might have waited quietly alongside the
French until they finished their work, and then seen them politely "off
the premises," so to speak; in which event Governor King's purpose would
have been fully served and no offence would have been given. But instead
of that, after lying at anchor beside Le Geographe for six days, on
friendly and even convivial terms with the French, Robbins landed with
his army of seventeen stalwarts, fastened the British flag to a tree over
the tents of the naturalists, had a volley fired by three marines--he was
doing the thing in style--and, calling for three cheers, which were
lustily given, formally asserted possession of King Island. There was no
need to do anything of the kind, for the island had been discovered four
years before, and was at this very time occupied by British people, who
used it as the headquarters of the Bass Strait sealing industry.

Robbins' action, though strictly in accordance with the instructions
given to him on the supposition that the French would be found in
occupation of territory in Tasmania, was, in the circumstances, tactless
to the point of rudeness, though it caused less indignation than
amusement among them. It is to be noticed that the flag of the Republic
had not been erected over the tents of the visitors, nor anywhere on the
island. Otherwise, we may suppose, Acting-Lieutenant Robbins would have
gone a step further and pulled it down; and what would have happened then
we can but surmise.

Baudin was on his ship, which was anchored a little way off the shore,
when the "hurrahs" of the assertive seventeen directed his attention to
Robbins' solemn proceedings. In a private letter to King he described
what had happened as a "childish ceremony," which had been made more
ridiculous "from the manner in which the flag was placed, the head being
downwards, and the attitude not very majestic. Having occasion to go on
shore that day, I saw for myself what I am telling you. I thought at
first it might have been a flag which had been used to strain water and
then hung out to dry; but seeing an armed man walking about, I was
informed of the ceremony which had taken place that morning."* (* Baudin
to King, Historical Records 5 829.) He asserted that Petit, one of his
artists, had made an amusing caricature of the ceremony, but that he,
Baudin, had torn it up, and directed that it was not to be repeated.

The tone of Baudin's letters betrayed more annoyance than his language
actually expressed; but assuming that his professions were true, it must
be admitted that he had reason to feel offended. He had left Sydney on
excellent terms with the governor, who had not only wished well to his
undertaking, but had assisted in its prosecution by enabling the
Casuarina to be purchased. He now found himself pursued by a youthful and
exuberant officer, presented with a letter which suggested intentions
that he had explicitly disavowed, and the British flag was virtually
flapped in his face in a somewhat unmannerly fashion. King's letter to
him explained the rumour which had led to the despatch of the Cumberland,
and contained the following passage: "You will easily imagine that if any
information of that kind had reached me before your departure, I should
have requested an explanation; but as I knew nothing of it, and at
present totally disbelieving anything of the kind ever being thought of,
I consider it but proper to give you this information."

Baudin wrote two letters in reply, one officially, and the second, by far
the more interesting document, a personal and friendly epistle. In the
official answer he said: "The story you have heard, of which I suspect
Mr. Kemp, captain in the New South Wales corps, to be the author, is
without foundation, nor do I believe that the officers and naturalists
who are on board can have given cause for it by their conversation. But
in any case you may rest well assured that if the French Government had
ordered me to remain some days either in the north or south of Van
Diemen's Land, discovered by Abel Tasman, I would have stopped there
without keeping my intention secret from you." Baudin's additional
statement that, prior to the flag incident, he had taken care to place in
four prominent parts of the island "proofs sufficient to show the
priority of our visit," must, however, have brought a smile to King's
lips, and certainly makes one wonder what Baudin meant by "priority";
since King Island had previously been visited by Flinders, had been fully
charted, and was the frequent resort of sealers. As a matter of fact, the
Snow-Harrington, which had succoured Boullanger and his boat crew of
abandoned Frenchmen in the previous March, had, after that fortunate
meeting, stayed at the island ten weeks, when there were killed the
enormous number of six hundred sea-elephants and four thousand three
hundred seals.* (* Backhouse Walker, Early Tasmania page 21.) Besides,
Baudin assured King that "I intend" that the island "shall continue to
bear your name," forgetful that it would not have had a name already if
his own visit had been "prior" to others.

The second, unofficial, letter which Baudin wrote to the governor
repeated his positive assurances that the suspicions concerning his
objects were without foundation, but on account of the personal regard
which he entertained for King, he determined to tell him frankly his
opinion regarding the forming of European settlements and the
dispossessing of native peoples. The view expressed by him bears the
impress of the "ideas of '89," ideas which laid stress on the rights of
man and human equality, and professed for the backward races a special
fraternal tenderness. "To my way of thinking," said the commodore, "I
have never been able to conceive that there was any justice or equity on
the part of Europeans, in seizing, in the name of their governments, a
land for the first time, when it is inhabited by men who have not always
deserved the title of savages, or cannibals, which has been given to
them, while they were but children of nature, and just as little savages
as are actually your Scotch Highlanders* (* Had Baudin been reading about
the Sage of Lichfield? "Well, sir, God made Scotland." "Certainly,"
replied Dr. Johnson, "but we must always remember that he made it for
Scotchmen; and comparisons are odious, Mr. Strahan, but God made Hell."
Caledonian Societies, of which there are many in various parts of the
world, will observe with gratitude Baudin's concession that Highlanders
did not eat their fellowmen.) or our peasants of Brittany, who, if they
do not eat their fellowmen, are nevertheless just as objectionable. From
this it appears to me that it would be infinitely more glorious for your
nation, as for mine, to mould for society the inhabitants of the
respective countries over whom they have rights, instead of wishing to
dispossess those who are so far removed by immediately seizing the soil
which they own and which has given them birth. These remarks are no doubt
impolitic, but at least reasonable from the facts; and had this principle
been generally adopted you would not have been obliged to form a colony
by means of men branded by the law, and who have become criminals through
the fault of the Government which has neglected and abandoned them to
themselves. It follows, therefore, that not only have you to reproach
yourselves with an injustice in seizing their lands, but also in
transporting on a soil where the crimes and the diseases of Europeans
were unknown, all that could retard the progress of civilisation, but
which has served as a pretext to your Government. I have no knowledge of
the claims which the French Government may have upon Van Diemen's Land,
nor of its designs; but I think that its title will not be any better
grounded than yours."

After this taste of Baudin's reflections, it is really a pity that we
possess so little from his pen. Had he lived to be the historian of the
expedition, his work would have been very different in character from
that of Peron; though it is hardly likely that an elaboration of the
views expressed in the personal letter to King would have been favoured
with the imprint "de l'Imprimerie Imperiale." Peron's anthropological
studies among Australian aboriginals led him to conclusions totally at
variance with the nebulous "state of nature" theories of the time, which
pictured the civilised being as a degenerate from man unspoiled by law,
government, and convention. The tests and measurements of blacks which he
made, and compared with those of French and English people, showed him
that even physically the native was an inferior animal; his observations
of ways of life in the wild Bush taught him that organised society, with
all its restraints, was preferable to the supposed freedom of savagery;
and he deduced the philosophical conclusion that the "state of nature"
was in truth a state of subjection to pitiless forces, only endurable by
beings who felt not the bondage because they knew of no more ennobled
condition.* (* A more distinguished man was cured of his early
Rousseauism by an acquaintance with peoples far higher in the scale of
advancement than Australian aboriginals. "Up to sixteen years of age,"
said Napoleon in a scrap of conversation recorded by Roederer, "I would
have fought for Rousseau against all the friends of Voltaire. Now it is
the contrary. I have been especially disgusted with Rousseau since I have
seen the East. Savage man is a dog.") Baudin carried away from his visits
to the abodes of untutored races no truer notion than came from his own
unsubstantiated sentiments, nourished by no contact with facts, but
imbibed uncritically from the rhetorical rhapsodists of Rousseau's
school. Crabbe summed them up in half a dozen lines:

  "Tis the savage state
Is only good, and ours sophisticate!
See! the free creatures in their woods and plains,
Where without laws each happy monarch reigns,
King of himself--while we a number dread,
By slaves commanded and by dunces led."

Peron spoke of savage peoples, not with less sympathy but with a sympathy
grounded on knowledge; and he wasted no words about the "injustice" of
occupying lands which the aboriginal only used in the sense that lands
are "used" by rabbits and dingoes. Peron's appreciation of well-observed
facts gave him some political insight in the philosophical sense, and he
comprehended the development of which the country was capable. Could
Baudin's shade visit to-day the shores that he traversed more than a
century ago, he would surely acknowledge that orchards of ripening fruit,
miles of golden grain, millions of white fleeces, the cattle of a
thousand hills, great cities throbbing with immense energies, and a
commerce of ever augmenting vastness, ministering to the happiness of
free and prosperous populations, are, in the large ledger of humanity, an
abundant compensation for the disappearance of the few companies of naked
savages whom, when civilisation once invaded their ancestral haunts,
neither the agencies of government nor philanthropy could save from the
processes of decay.

The account given by Peron of the flag-raising incident was quite
accurate, but he presented his readers with a wholly untrue version of
Governor King's letter to Baudin. With the document before us, we must
doubt whether Peron ever saw it. The passage printed by him in quotation
marks bears hardly a resemblance to the courteous terms of the actual
letter, which did not contain any such threat as that "all these
countries form an integral part of the British Empire," and "it will be
my duty to oppose by every means in my power the execution of the design
you are supposed to have in view." It seems probable that Peron heard the
letter read, or its contents summarised, but, in writing, mixed up the
substance of it with blustering language which may have been used by
Acting-Lieutenant Robbins.* (* Backhouse Walker also held this view.
Early Tasmania page 18.) At all events, King used no word of menace,
while conveying plainly that the establishment of a French settlement
would require "explanation."

There is no good reason for disbelieving Baudin's disclaimer. It was
plain and candid; and there was nothing in his actions while he was in
Australian waters which belied his words. The baseless character of the
gossip promulgated by Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson, and the alleged
exhibition of the map indicating the exact spot where the French intended
to settle in Frederick Henry Bay, were disposed of by the fact that
Baudin's ships went nowhere near that place after leaving Sydney. If any
French officer did show Paterson a chart, he must have been amusing
himself by playing on the suspicions of the Englishman, who was probably
"fishing" for information. Baudin's conduct, and that of his officers,
never suggested that search for a site for settlement was part of the
mission of the expedition; and, in the face of the commodore's emphatic
denials, positive evidence, or a strong chain of facts to the contrary,
would have to be forthcoming before such a story could be entertained.
Suspicions were natural enough in face of the strained feelings, the
wars, the plots and counter-plots of diplomacy, Napoleon's menaced
invasion of England, and all the other factors that made for racial
animosity at the beginning of the nineteenth century; but viewing the
circumstances in the perspective made by the lapse of a hundred years,
cool judgment must dismiss the jealous alarms of 1802 as being unfounded.

Yet a patriotic Frenchman, as Peron was, could not witness this
remarkable growth of a new offshoot of British power in the South Seas
without regret and misgiving. "Doubtless," he commented on Robbins'
action, "that ceremony will appear silly to people who know little about
English polity; but for the statesman such formalities assume a much more
serious and important character. By these public and repeated
declarations England seems every day to fortify her pretensions, to
establish her rights, in a positive manner, and to devise pretexts to
repulse, even by force of arms, all other peoples who may wish to form
settlements in these distant countries." We shall not honour Peron the
less because he expressed an opinion so natural to a man solicitous for
his country's prestige.

It has been stated by one or two writers that the action of Robbins put
an end to the cordial relations which had previously existed between him
and the French. But that is an error. They had cause to be offended, but
the young man was treated with indulgence. Peron records that both Grimes
and Robbins visited the tents of the French after the flag incident, and
shared their frugal dinner; and Baudin informed King that, the Cumberland
having lost an anchor, his forge was at work for a whole day supplying
the wants of the British schooner--a service akin to heaping coals of
fire on the head of the zealous acting-lieutenant. At the same time,
other members of the French expedition experienced very kind treatment
from British fishermen. Faure, one of the scientific staff, was sent in a
small boat to complete a chart of the island. A violent storm compelled
him to go ashore on the western end, where he and his sailors were for
three days most hospitably entertained by sealers, who, on their
departure, forced upon them some of their finest furs as presents. "How
is it," comments Peron, "that such touching hospitality, of which voyages
offer so many examples, is nearly always exercised by men whose poverty
and roughness of character seem to impose such an obligation least upon
them. It seems that misfortune, rather than philosophy and brilliant
education, develops in mankind that noble and disinterested virtue which
induces us to minister to the woes of others."

Le Naturaliste sailed for Europe from King Island on December 8, carrying
with her all the plants and natural history specimens collected up to
date, as well as the charts. The collections were, as King wrote to Sir
Joseph Banks, "immense."* (* Historical Records 4 844.) Le Geographe and
the Casuarina left on December 27, and sailed direct for Kangaroo Island,
to resume in that neighbourhood the charting which Baudin had abandoned
in the previous year. They did not, as the logs show, make any attempt to
examine Port Phillip. Robbins and his seventeen guardians of British
rights on the Cumberland remained for some time longer making a thorough
examination; after which they sailed for Port Phillip, and Grimes made
the first complete survey of that great sheet of water.

It is only necessary to add that King reported to the Admiralty his
approval of Robbins' action, and that to "make the French commander
acquainted with my intention of settling Van Diemen's Land was all I
sought by this voyage." But it is obvious from a letter which he wrote to
Banks, after Baudin's death, and after his soul had been moved to
righteous wrath by the iniquitous treatment of Flinders--whom he so
warmly admired and so loyally aided--that suspicion, once implanted in
King's mind, was not eradicated by explicit disavowals. Had Baudin lived
another year, he said, "I think it very possible that the commodore would
most likely have visited the colony for the purpose of annihilating the
settlement." But surely here, if ever, the lines were applicable:

"In the night imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!"

Baudin, after his remarkable exploits in 1800 to 1804, was the last man
whom Napoleon would have chosen to try to annihilate a British settlement
anywhere. Rather, in such an unlikely event, would his own crew have been
in danger of annihilation from his methods.


Le Geographe sails for Kangaroo Island.
Exploration of the two gulfs in the Casuarina by Freycinet.
Baudin's erratic behaviour.
Port Lincoln.
Peron among the giants.
A painful excursion.
Second visit to Timor.
Abandonment of north coast exploration.
Baudin resolves to return home.
Voyage to Mauritius.
Death of Baudin.
Treatment of him by Peron and Freycinet.
Return of Le Geographe.
Depression of the staff and crew.

Le Geographe sighted Kangaroo Island on January 2, and anchored on the
6th in Nepean Bay on the eastern side. The Casuarina joined her consort
on the following day.

Freycinet, who was in command of the smaller vessel, was instructed to
make a complete survey of the two gulfs named by the French after
Bonaparte and Josephine, and by Flinders, their discoverer, after Lord
Spencer and Lord St. Vincent, who were First Lords of the Admiralty when
his own expedition was authorised and when it sailed from England.

The Casuarina was provisioned for twenty-six days for this task, and
Freycinet took with him Boullanger, one of the hydrographers, who
prepared the charts under his supervision. No part of the French work was
better done than was the charting of the two gulfs and Kangaroo Island,
and, as previously indicated, its quality very naturally aroused the
suspicion that the improvement owed something to the charts of Flinders.
It has been shown, however, that this was not the case. Of Boullanger's
training and qualifications nothing can be said, except that it may be
presumed that the Committee of the Institute of France which selected
him, comprising two such experts as Bougainville and Fleurieu, must have
been satisfied of his attainments. Much of his work was certainly done
under severe trials and difficulties, but it is chiefly significant that
the improvement in the charting synchronises with the presence in command
of Freycinet; and allusion may again be made to the beautiful work done
by this officer when he commanded the Uranie and the Physicienne a few
years later, as showing his deep interest and practical skill in
employment of this class.

There can be no doubt that the work would have been better done
throughout had Captain Baudin been a more sympathetic commander. To what
extent the deficiencies of the French charts of the remainder of the
Terre Napoleon coasts are attributable to his failure to appreciate the
requirements of his scientific staff, can be conjectured; but the
peremptory manner in which he allotted so many days and no more for the
survey of the gulfs, and then sailed off leaving the Casuarina to shift
for herself, reveals an extraordinary temper in a commander on such
service, as well as a fatuous disregard of the many hindrances that made
rigid time conditions difficult to observe.

Flinders had occupied forty days in his exploration of the two
gulfs--from February 21 to April 1, 1802. Freycinet occupied only
twenty-one days in traversing precisely the same extent of
coast-line--from January 11 to February 1, 1803. Flinders had settled the
question as to whether there was a passage through the continent to the
Gulf of Carpentaria, and Freycinet and Baudin were by this time aware
that no important discovery of this character was to be expected. But the
navigation was perilous, the risks were unknown, and Freycinet should
have been able to pursue his task unhampered by the fear that if
circumstances compelled him to over-stay his time for a day or two, he
would be abandoned in a small vessel without provisions for more than his
narrowly prescribed period. "But the character of our chief was known."
"Quite sure of being pitilessly abandoned in case of delay," Freycinet
made haste to return to Nepean Bay at the end of the month. But when he
reached the anchorage he found that Baudin had already sailed away. "The
abandonment of our companions in the midst of these vast gulfs, where so
many perils might be encountered, had been a subject of consternation on
board Le Geographe," Peron records. It really was unaccountable
behaviour; even worse than that of the abandonment of Boullanger and his
boat's crew on the east coast of Tasmania in the previous March. A
commander who treated those among his subordinates who were sustaining
the most dangerous and exacting part of the work with so little
consideration, can hardly have maintained their confidence, or deserved

The Casuarina, making all sail for Nepean Bay westward, sighted the
leading ship in Investigator Strait. But Baudin did not wait even then.
He kept Le Geographe on her course, under a full head of sail, without
permitting the Casuarina to come up and report, or inquiring after the
success of her work. The two ships soon lost sight of each other. Next
day Baudin, evidently realising the enormity of his folly, veered round,
and returned to Nepean Bay. But as the Casuarina had kept on westward
during the night, in a frantic endeavour to catch her leader, the two
vessels crossed far apart and out of vision. They did not meet again for
fourteen days, when both lay at anchor in King George's Sound.

It is not wonderful that Freycinet confessed that he was "astonished" at
Baudin's manoeuvres. They were scarcely those of a rational being, to say
nothing of a commander responsible for the safety of two ships and the
lives of their people. The company on the smaller vessel endured severe
privations. They were reduced to a ration of three ounces of biscuit per
man per day, and to a mere drink of water; and the ship herself sustained
such severe damage from heavy seas that, said Freycinet, had he been
delayed a few hours in reaching King George's Sound, he would have been
compelled to run her ashore to prevent her from foundering. "Judge of the
horror of my position," he wrote, and he certainly did not exaggerate
when he used that term; for the coast along which he ran for safety is
one of the most hopelessly barren in the whole world, offering to a
stranded mariner neither sustenance, shelter, nor means of deliverance.

The only feature of much interest pertaining to the geographical work of
the expedition in the region of the gulfs, is the high opinion formed by
Peron of Port Lincoln--called Port Champagny on the Terre Napoleon
charts. The port has not played a large part in the subsequent
development of Australia, but Flinders, who discovered it and named it
after the chief town of his native county, and the French of Baudin's
expedition, who were the second people to enter it, thought very highly
of its beauty and value. Peron spoke of it as a "magnificent port," in
which all the navies of Europe could float, and concluded two pages of
description with the words: "Worthy rival of Port Jackson, Port Lincoln
is, in all respects, one of the finest in the world; and of all those
which we have discovered [yet they had not discovered a single port of
any kind!], whether to the south, the west, or the north of New Holland,
it appears to be, I repeat, the best adapted to receive a European
colony." After many years of settlement, Port Lincoln boasts of fewer
than a thousand inhabitants; for though the glowing language of
admiration concerning its beauty and convenience written by Flinders and
Peron were fully justified, a back country too arid to support a large
population has prevented it from attaining to great importance among the
harbours of Australia. To the student of the history of exploration,
however, Port Lincoln is interesting even beyond the measure of its
beauty; for there, in 1841, Sir John Franklin, then governor of Tasmania,
erected at his own cost a monument to the honour of Flinders, his old
commander, from whom he imbibed that passion for exploration which was in
due time to place his own name imperishably amongst the glorious company
of great English seamen.

Peron himself experienced the cross-grained temper of the commander
during the visit of the ships to Sharks Bay. This was the scene of
Dampier's descent upon the Western Australian coast in 1699, in the
rickety little Roebuck. It was here that his men dined off sharks' flesh,
and "took care that no waste should be made of it, but thought it, as
things stood, good entertainment."* The bay received from Dampier, on
account of the feast, the name it has ever since borne. (* Dampier's men
were unprejudiced in matters of gastronomy, but their taste in fish was
not to their discredit. Shark's flesh, especially when young, is, there
is reason to believe, excellent eating. During some weeks in a recent
summer, when what we may term "orthodox" fish was scarce, a fashionable
Australian sea-side hotel was regularly supplied with young
shark--"gummy"--by a fisherman, for whose veracity the author can vouch.
Neither proprietor, chef, nor guests knew what it was, and all were well
fed and happy.)

Some of the French sailors who had been ashore returned in a wild state
of alarm on account of giants whom they professed to have seen--men of
extraordinary strength and stature, they reported, with long black
beards, armed with enormous spears and shields, who ran at a furious
pace, brandishing their weapons and giving utterance to fearful yells.
"However extravagant these assertions might appear," said the incredulous
naturalist, "it was necessary to collect precise information on the
subject." The scientific Ulysses regarded the reputed Cyclops with a
calculating scepticism. Had Polyphemus been at hand, Peron would have
politely requested him to permit himself to be weighed and measured, and
would have written an admirable monograph on his solitary optic.

There were, he considered, some reasons for thinking that a race of men
of heroic proportions inhabited this western part of the continent. The
Dutch captain, Vlaming, in 1697, had reported finding gigantic human
footprints upon the banks of the Swan River, near where the city of Perth
now stands; and two of Baudin's officers, whose names were not Munchausen
and Sindbad but Heirisson and Moreau, declared that they also had
observed the same phenomena at the same place. Peron set down these
stories to the exaggerative distortion of lovers of the marvellous, "of
whom we counted some amongst us." But when the sailors came scampering
back to the ship with the tale that they had actually seen the giants and
been pursued by them, the naturalist began to think that there was
probably some ground for the belief. At all events, he determined to go
and see for himself.

He requested Baudin to send a few armed men ashore with him, but was
rudely refused. Not to be thwarted in continuing his researches in so
favourable a place, Peron determined to make use of a couple of days
during which a furnace was to be erected for extracting salt from the sea
by evaporation--the ship's supply having been depleted--to run the risk
of an excursion on his own account; whereupon Petit, one of the artists,
and Guichenot, one of the gardeners, resolved to accompany him.

The adventurous three were soon favoured with a visit from a troop of
aboriginals, who, though by no means giants, were certainly formidable
foes. There were forty of them, all armed with spears. Peron and his
companions, to defend themselves, had only a musket and a pair of
pistols. The savages, terrible fellows, advanced with "clameurs terribles
et menacantes." Retreat for the Frenchmen was impossible. A show of
courage was the best policy; and the three, one of whom, Petit, had been
"plein de terreur" when the blacks first made their appearance, put on a
bold front and marched forward "avec assurance a leur rencontre." This
bold tactical manoeuvre met with its deserved reward. The savages were
visibly disconcerted. One of them made signs of invitation to a parley,
but Peron considered it to be hazardous for one of the three to isolate
himself from his companions. The trio continued to advance, resolved to
sell their lives dearly if die they must. Such unexpected audacity threw
the blacks into a state of uncertainty, and, after deliberating for a few
moments, they turned their backs and went away, though slowly, and
without the appearance of fear or disorder. Peron, Petit, and Guichenot,
"to give the aboriginals a higher idea of our confidence and our
courage," did not halt in their advance, but marched in the track of the
retreating forty, who climbed to the height of a steep cliff and there
continued to yell and gesticulate as though desiring to have conference
with one of the white men. "After having responded for some time with
similar cries and gestures"--Ulysses defying Polyphemus will recur to the
mind--Peron and his companions concluded this signal display of coolness
and daring by quietly walking back and proceeding on their journey
inland. They were not pursued nor further molested.

Cool vision detracted from the gigantic stature of the Sharks Bay blacks
as effectually as a cool demeanour disposed of the danger from them. The
tallest man among them Peron declared to be no more than five feet four
or five inches in height, and most of the forty were small sized,
thin-limbed, and of feeble appearance. It is easy to perceive in this
incident, where a disposition to exaggerate looking through the lens of
fear, magnified a group of slight and slender savages into terrific
giants, how many a legend has come to birth. The original sons of Anak
would probably have been severely shortened of their inches had a Peron
been available to bring illusion promptly to the test of measurement, and
perhaps a scientific Jack the Giant Killer could have done deadly
execution with a foot-rule.* (* It may be noted that Peron's researches
regarding the physical proportions and capacities of savage races aroused
much interest in France. The Moniteur of April 25 and June 23, 1808,
published two long articles on "the physical force of savage people,"
founded upon Peron's writings and his records of comparative dynamometric

The three adventurers suffered far more severely from the heat of the sun
and the fatigues of working among thick bush and sand than from the
natives of the country. They made a fine collection of specimens, and,
congratulating themselves on their success, endeavoured to make their way
back to the boat. But they soon realised that they were "bushed"--a term
familiar enough to those who are acquainted with the story of Australian
inland exploration. The country was covered with thick scrub, through
which they endeavoured to make their way. The afternoon sun poured down a
pitiless flood of heat, the white, glaring sand burnt their feet, the air
in the Bush was stifling. It was as though they were walking through
furnaces; and there were no spreading trees to relieve the ordeal by a
touch of shade. They at length regained the shore, and trudged along the
soft, hot sand; when Peron, exhausted after a walk of three hours, was
compelled to throw aside the greater part of the collection which he had
made at the expense of so much painful labour. Shortly afterwards
Guichenot fell to the ground exhausted by hunger, thirst, and fatigue,
and begged his companions to leave him there to die while they
endeavoured to save themselves. Peron remembered a passage he had read in
Cook's voyages about the reviving effect of a plunge in sea-water; and he
and Petit tried it by wading in up to their necks. They assisted
Guichenot to do the same, and revived him sufficiently to enable him to
continue the weary march. The sun set; a breeze sprang up; and soon the
three travellers saw with joy the smoke of a fire which had been lighted
as a guide to them. They staggered on, and at last all three fell
fainting in sight of their companions, who hurried forward to relieve

There is nothing incredible in Peron's narrative of the sufferings of
himself and his companions on this excursion. It is not surprising to one
with a knowledge of the local conditions. The exertions they had made
should have earned them commendation, or at least compassion, from the
commandant. But Baudin's view was censorious. Three times during the
evening a gun had been fired from the ship as a signal to the boat to
return. The officer in charge of the shore party considered that it would
be unjustifiable to leave until the three travellers returned, and
trusted that this explanation would be accepted as excusing the delay. A
sea fog now prevented the boat from returning forthwith; but the sailors
had neither food nor water to give to the parched and famished
unfortunates. When at last they did reach the ship, they had been for
forty hours without sup or sip; they were prostrate from sheer weakness;
and Peron himself was reduced to the extremity that his leathern tongue
refused to articulate. The commandant was the only man aboard who had no
pity to spare for their misery. Baudin actually fined the officer in
charge of the boat ten francs for every gun fired, because he had not
obeyed the return signal, and for not "abandoning all three." "Those were
the very words of our chief," wrote Peron; "and yet I had, to save his
life at Timor, given to his physician part of the small stock of
excellent quinine that I had brought for my own use."

This heartless conduct, taken in conjunction with Baudin's abandonment of
Boullanger on the Tasmanian coast, and his strange behaviour to the
Casuarina after the exploration of the gulfs, leaves one in no doubt as
to his singular deficiency in the qualities essential to the commander of
an expedition of discovery. It was his invariable practice, we also read,
to provision boats engaged on any special service for the bare time that
he meant them to be absent; so many ounces of food and so many pints of
water per man per day, and no more, leaving no margin for accidents,
allowing of no excuse for unavoidable delay. A sensible person would not
provide for a picnic on such principles.

The exploration of the west and north-west coasts was continued till the
end of April, when Baudin decided to go once more to Timor. His intention
was, after refreshing his men and taking in supplies at the Dutch
settlement, to spend some time in the Gulf of Carpentaria and along the
southern shores of New Guinea. On May 6, Kupang harbour was entered for
the second time. There it was learnt that Flinders had called at the port
in the Investigator in April, after having concluded his exploration of
the northern gulf. He had been compelled to relinquish his work owing to
the rotten condition of his ship's timbers, and had sailed back to Port
Jackson. As he had reached the Gulf of Carpentaria by sailing up the
eastern side of the continent, and returned through Torres Strait down
the western coast, and through Bass Strait on the south, Flinders was the
first sailor to accomplish the circumnavigation of Australia, as he had
also been the first to circumnavigate Tasmania.* (* Tasman, in 1642,
sailed from Batavia, in Java, thence to Mauritius, Tasmania, New Zealand,
the Friendly Islands, northern New Guinea, and back to Batavia. This was
a wide circumnavigation of the whole of New Holland; but he did not sight
Australia, and as, of course, he did not go near Bass Strait, he did not
circumnavigate the continent proper.)

Le Geographe and the Casuarina remained at Kupang till June
3--twenty-eight days--enjoying the hospitality of the Dutch. Peron made
several excursions for collecting purposes, and once shot an alligator
nine feet long, which he skinned. He had the hide and head carried down
to the port by Malays on long bamboo poles, this method of conveyance
being necessitated by the superstitious refusal of the natives to touch
even the skin of the dreaded beast. But the labour was to a large extent
wasted, for putrefaction advanced, while the skin was in transit, to such
an extent that all but the head had to be thrown into the sea.

Baudin's plan, after leaving Kupang, was to continue the exploration of
the coasts of Western Australia. But very light breezes, alternating with
calms, prevented substantial progress, and after spending the greater
part of the month ineffectually in traversing only a few leagues, it was
concluded (June 28) that to continue the work in detail from west to east
at that season of the year would merely lead to a futile waste of time.
Here again the logic of facts was required to convince Baudin, who had
previously rejected sound advice that was offered to him, to the effect
that contrary winds would thwart his designs. The winds blow at certain
seasons with steady consistency in these regions, and an experienced
navigator, knowing what he has to expect, makes his plans accordingly.
When Flinders was driven reluctantly to abandon finishing the exploration
of the north coast through the dangerous condition of the Investigator,
he made his way back to Port Jackson by the western route, because,
although it was considerably longer, he thereby secured favourable winds;
and he reached port in safety. If we may judge from his habitual
perversity, Baudin, under similar circumstances, would have taken the
shorter route, regardless of normal conditions, and would have lost his

Changing his route after much waste of time, Baudin took his vessels
towards the south-west of New Guinea, with the intention of making
investigations there. But again the sailing was for the most part slow,
especially as the Casuarina made very poor progress; and when within a
few leagues from False Cape--called Cape Walshe on the French
charts--circumstances compelled the commander to review his position and
prospects in a serious light. Once more the supply of water was running
short. The ships carried from Kupang sufficient for ninety-five days.
Apart from the necessities of the crew, some had to be spared for the
plants and animals--kangaroos, emus, etc.--which were being carried to
Europe. Thirty-four days had been dawdled away without achieving any
substantial results. For the ultimate return to Mauritius sufficient
water to last forty days must be conserved. Consequently Baudin argued
that he could not by any possibility afford to remain in these waters
longer than three more weeks; and as in that time not much could be done,
he determined to return home at once. His decision gave pleasure to his
unhappy people; but surely it was that of a man whose heart was not in
his work. No attempt was made to send parties ashore to search for fresh
water. When Flinders ran short, and did not come across a convenient
spring or stream, he dug and found water, as at Port Lincoln; and a very
experienced traveller has observed that "in nearly all parts of Australia
it is usually found a few feet beneath the surface of the ground."* (*
Ward, Rambles of an Australian Naturalist page 109.)

But there were other reasons which conduced to create in Baudin that
depression which is inimical to the protracted pursuit of an allotted
task. Sickness once more laid its hand upon the crews. The commander
himself was in bad health. The demands upon the resources of the doctors
were so numerous that their medicines became exhausted, and they were
unable to attend satisfactorily to the necessities of a constantly
increasing number of ailing men. Bernier, the astronomer, died before the
order to return was given. He was a young man of great promise--"savant
et laborieux," as Peron wrote of him--whose original work before he
reached full manhood had attracted the notice of Lalande. Selected by the
Institute to fill a scientific post with the expedition, he did excellent
work, and his death cut short a career that gave indications of being
brilliant and useful. Cape Bernier, on the east coast of
Tasmania--opposite the southern end of Maria Island--preserves his name.

On July 7 the order was given to turn, and sail for Mauritius. Le
Geographe put into Port Louis on August 7, and the Casuarina, after a
very rough voyage, reached the harbour five days later.

Baudin, whose illness had continued throughout the voyage, died while his
ships lay at Mauritius, on September 16. His death had been expected for
some time before it occurred, and if there was little surprise at the
event, it is pathetic to observe that there was as little regret. Not a
word of sympathy appeared in the studiously frigid terms in which the
decease of the commander was chronicled in the official history of the
voyage. Not a syllable was used expressing appreciation of any qualities
which he may have possessed, either as an officer or a man. After curtly
mentioning his illness, Peron recorded the death and burial in two
sentences sterile of emotion. He showed more regret when he had to throw
away the skin of the alligator which he shot at Timor, than when
mentioning the death of one who had been his chief for three years.
"Finally the last moment arrived; and on September 16, 1803, at about
mid-day, M. Baudin ceased to exist. On the 17th he was buried with the
honours due to the rank he had occupied in the navy; all the officers and
savants of the expedition assisted at the funeral, which was also
attended by the principal authorities of the colony." That is all. Had it
been Peron's manner to record the deaths of the companions of his voyage
with such barren brevity, there would be nothing in the passage to excite
comment. But when a sailor fell overboard we were told what an excellent
and laborious man he was, and how much he was regretted; the death of
Bernier called forth an appropriate sentence of eulogy; when Depuch, the
mineralogist died, we were properly informed that he was as much esteemed
for his modesty and the goodness of his heart as for the extent and
variety of his knowledge. The contrast between these instances and the
summary plainness of the statement when Baudin's end was mentioned,
cannot escape notice; any more than we can mistake the meaning of the
consistent suppression of his name throughout the text of the volumes.

Attention has to be directed to this display of animosity because, in
bare justice to Baudin, we have to remember that the only story of the
expedition which we have is that written by Peron and Freycinet, who were
plainly at enmity with him. If the facts were as related by them, Baudin
was not only an absurdly obstinate and ungenial captain, but we are left
with grave doubts as to his competency as a navigator on service of this
description. Yet even facts, when detailed by those who hate a man, take
a different colouring from the same facts set down by the man himself,
with his reasons for what he did. We have no material for forming an
opinion from Baudin's point of view. If his manuscript journals are
capable of throwing fresh light on the events concerned, their
publication, if they remain in existence, would be welcome. All that at
present we can set against the hard, unsympathetic view of the man as we
see him in the pages written by Peron and revised by Freycinet, is his
conduct and correspondence in relation to Governor King at Port Jackson;
and there he appears as a gentleman of agreeable manners, graceful
expression, and ready tact. We do not form a lower opinion of him in
consequence of the letter which he wrote in reply to the one delivered by
Acting-Lieutenant Robbins. because there he expressed views imbibed as
almost a part of the atmosphere of the Revolution amidst which he had
been reared. If we had only the Baudin-King correspondence, we should
think him not unworthy to be the successor of La Perouse and
Bougainville. If we had only the Voyage de Decouvertes, we should think
him barely fit to command a canal barge. It may not have been the
happiness of many navigators to enjoy the affection of those under them
to such an eminent degree as did Cook and Flinders; but there are
fortunately latitudes of difference between love and hate. Respect is
often felt to be due when deeper sentiments are not stimulated. The cold
chronicle that the honours appropriate to his rank were paid to Baudin at
his funeral seems very harsh; and one feels that Freycinet, at any rate,
whom Baudin had promoted to the command of the Casuarina, and furnished
with a chance of distinguishing himself, might have sunk his grievances
sufficiently to add a word in praise of at least some virtue which we may
hope that the dead captain possessed.

Baudin wrote a letter from King Island to Jussieu which indicated that
the experience had been an unhappy one for him.* (* The letter was
printed in the Moniteur, 22nd Fructidor, Revolutionary Year 11 (September
9, 1803). Baudin's death was recorded in the Moniteur on 13th Germinal,
Revolutionary Year 12 (April 3, 1804).) "I have never made so painful a
voyage," he said. "More than once my health has been impaired, but if I
can terminate the expedition conformably to the intentions of the
Government and to the satisfaction of the French nation, there will
remain little to desire, and my sufferings will soon be forgotten." To a
very large extent Baudin must be held responsible for the misfortunes and
failures attending his command, but it is an act of justice to clear him
from aspersions that have been made upon him for things that occurred
after his death. He had nothing whatever to do with the imprisonment of
Flinders, for which he has been blamed by writers who have not looked
into the literature of the subject sufficiently to be aware that he was
dead at the time; nor was he in any way connected with the issue of the
Terre Napoleon maps, with which his name has also been associated.

General Decaen, Napoleon's newly appointed governor, arrived at the
island eight days after Le Geographe, and at once began to administer
affairs upon new lines of policy. A little later the French admiral,
Linois, with a fleet of frigates, entered port. On the death of Baudin,
Linois directed that the Casuarina should be dismantled, and appointed
Captain Milius to the command of Le Geographe, with instructions to take
her home as soon as her sick crew recovered and she had been
revictualled. Peron, as has already been explained, had some conversation
with Decaen, imparting to him the conclusion he had formulated relative
to the secret intentions of the British for the augmentation of their
possessions in the Pacific and Indian Oceans; but there is no record that
Decaen saw Baudin, who was probably too ill to attend to affairs in the
period between the general's arrival and his own death. It is hardly
likely that Baudin, who, from his intimacy with King, knew more about
British policy than the naturalist did, would have supported Peron's
excited fancies.

Le Geographe sailed from Mauritius on December 15, and reached Europe
without the occurrence of any further incidents calling for comment. She
entered the port of Lorient on March 24, 1804. Captain Milius decided not
to make for Havre, whence the expedition had sailed in 1800, in
consequence of what had happened to Le Naturaliste on her return to
Europe in the previous year. War was declared by the British Government
against France in May, and every captain in King George's navy was alert
and eager to get in a blow upon the enemy. The frigate Minerva, Captain
Charles Buller, sighted Le Naturaliste in the Channel, stopped her, and
insisted, despite her passport, on taking her into Portsmouth. She was
detained there from May 27 till June 6, when the Admiralty, being
informed of what had occurred, ordered her immediate release. She left
Portsmouth and arrived at Havre on the same day, June 6, 1803.

Perhaps nothing can convey more effectually the utter weariness and
depression of officers, staff, and crew, than the language in which
Freycinet chronicled the return. It might be supposed, he wrote, that the
end of the voyage would be heralded with joy. But they were themselves
surprised to find that they were but slightly touched with pleasure at
seeing again the shores of their own country after so long an absence.
"It might be said that the very sight of our ship, recalling too strongly
the sufferings of which we had been the victims, poisoned all our
affections. It was not until we were far away from the coast that our
souls could expand to sentiments of happiness which had been so long
strangers to us."

This, surely, was not the language of men who believed that they had
accomplished things for which the world would hold them in honour. It was
not the language of triumphant discoverers, whose good fortune it had
been to reveal unknown coasts, and to finish that complete map of the
continents which had been so long a-making. Would it, one wonders, have
made Freycinet a little happier had he known that at this very time the
English navigator who had made the discoveries for which Baudin's
expedition was sent out, was held in the clutch of General Decaen in
Mauritius, and that the way was clear to hurry on the publication of
forestalling maps and records whilst Flinders was, as it were, battened
under hatches?


Establishment of the First Empire.
Reluctance of the French Government to publish a record of the
Report of the Institute.
The official history of the voyage authorised.
Peron's scientific work.
His discovery of Pyrosoma atlanticum.
Other scientific memoirs.
His views on the modification of species.
Geographical results.
Freycinet's charts.

Startling changes in the political complexion of France had occurred
during the absence of the expedition. Citizen Bonaparte, who in May 1800
had concurred in the representations of the Institute that discovery in
southern regions would redound to the glory of the nation, had since
given rein to the conception that the glory of France meant, properly
interpreted, his own.* (* It was so from the beginning of his career as
Consul, according to M. Paul Brosses' interpretation of his character.
"Il est deja et sera de plus en plus convaincu que travailler a sa
grandeur, c'est travailler a la grandeur du pays." Consulat et Empire,
1907 page 27.) He meant to found a dynasty, and woe to those whom he
regarded as standing in his way. One of the first pieces of news that
those who landed from Le Geographe at Lorient on the 25th March would
hear, was that just four days before, the Duc d'Enghien, son of the Duc
de Bourbon, had been shot after an official examination so formal as to
be no better than a mockery, for his grave had actually been dug before
the inquiry commenced. When Peron and his companions reached Paris, they
would hear and read of debates among the representatives of the Republic,
mostly favourable to the establishment of a new hereditary Imperial
dignity; and they would be in good time to take an interest in the
plebiscite which, by a majority of nearly fourteen hundred to one,
approved the new constitution and enacted that "Napoleon Bonaparte, now
First Consul of the Republic, is Emperor of the French." They were, in
short, back soon enough to witness the process--it may well have
suggested to the naturalist a comparison with phenomena very familiar to
him--by which the Consular-chrysalis Bonaparte became the Emperor-moth

It was, of course, a very busy year for those responsible to their
illustrious master for the administration of departments. With a great
naval war on hand, with plots frequently being formed or feared, with the
wheels and levers of diplomacy to watch and manipulate, with immense
changes in the machinery of Government going forward, and with the
obligation of satisfying the exacting demands of a chief who was often in
a rage, and always tremendously energetic, the ministers of France were
not likely to have much enthusiasm to spare for maps and charts, large
collections of dead birds, insects, beasts, fishes, butterflies, and
plants, specimens of rocks and quantities of shells.

It is likely enough that absorption in more insistent affairs rather than
a hostile feeling explains the reluctance of the French Government to
authorise the publication of an official history of the voyage when such
a project was first submitted. Freycinet and his colleagues learnt "with
astonishment" that the authorities were unfavourable. "It was," he wrote,
"as if the miseries that we had endured, and to which a great number of
our companions had fallen victims, could be regarded as forming a
legitimate ground of reproach against us." It is more reasonable to
suppose that pressure of other business prevented Napoleon's ministers
from devoting much consideration to the subject. Men who have endured
hazards and hardships, and who return home after a long absence expecting
to be welcomed with acclaim, are disposed to feel snubbed and sore when
they find people not inclined to pay much attention to them. Remembering
the banquets and the plaudits that marked the despatch of the expedition,
those of its members who expected a demonstration may well have been
chilled by the small amount of notice they received. But the public as
well as the official mood was conceivably due rather to intense
concentration upon national affairs, during a period of amazing
transition, than to the prejudice which Freycinet's ruffled pride
suggested. "It would be difficult to explain," he wrote, "how, during the
voyage, there could have been formed concerning the expedition an opinion
so unfavourable, that even before our return the decision was arrived at
not to give any publicity to our works. The reception that we met with on
arriving in France showed the effects of such an unjust and painful
prejudice."* (* Preface to the 1824 edition of the Voyage de

When Le Naturaliste arrived at Havre in the previous year, the Moniteur*
(* 14th Messidor, Revolutionary Year 10. (July 3, 1803).) gave an account
of the very large collection of specimens that she brought, and spoke
cordially of the work; and in the following month* (* 27th Thermidor,
Revolutionary Year 11. (August 15).) Napoleon's organ published a long
sketch of the course of the voyage up to the King Island stage, from
particulars contained in despatches and supplied by Hamelin. The earlier
arrival of Le Naturaliste had the effect, also, of taking the edge off
public interest. This may be counted as one of the causes of the rather
frigid reception accorded to Le Geographe.

The only fact that lends any colour to Freycinet's supposition of
prejudice, is that the Moniteur article of 27th Thermidor suggested a
certain unsatisfactoriness about the charts sent home by Baudin. His
communications clearly led the Government to believe that he had made
important discoveries on the south coast of Australia, but unfortunately
the rough drawings accompanying his descriptions did not enable official
experts to form an accurate opinion. He mentioned the two large gulfs,
but furnished no chart of them.* (* "Cette decouverte [i.e. of the gulfs]
du Capitaine Baudin est tres interessante en ce qu'elle completera la
reconnaissance de la cote sud de la Nouvelle Hollande qui est due
entierement a la France. On ne peut pas encore juger du degre
d'exactitude avec laquelle elle a ete faite, parce que le citoyen Baudin
n'a envoye qu'une partie de la carte qu'il en a dressee, et que cette
carte meme n'est qu'une premiere esquisse. Il y a jointe une carte qui
marque seulement sa route, avec les sondes le long de toute cette cote,
et il promet d'envoyer l'autre partie de la cote par la premiere occasion
qu'il trouvera." Moniteur, 27th Thermidor, Revolutionary Year 11.) The
reason for that was, of course, that at the time when Le Naturaliste left
for France Baudin had not penetrated the gulfs, and could have had no
representation of them to submit. The article also alluded to another
chart of part of the coast in the neighbourhood of Cape Leeuwin, as not
conveying much information.* (* It was "figuree assez grossierement et
sans details.") These statements are useful as enabling us to understand
why Baudin was so shy about showing his charts to Flinders. If they gave
little satisfaction to the writer of the Moniteur article, we can imagine
what a critic who had been over the ground himself would have thought
about them.

These considerations scarcely afford reason for inferring that the
Government had formed a prejudice against the work of the expedition
before making a complete examination of its records, though it is very
probable that dissatisfaction was expressed about the charts. Hamelin,
also, would be fairly certain to intimate privately what he knew to be
the case, that Flinders had been beforehand with the most important of
the discoveries. Indeed, the Moniteur article expressly mentioned that
when Baudin met Flinders, the latter had "pursued the coast from Cape
Leeuwin to the place of meeting." The information that the English
captain had accomplished so much, despite the fact that he had left
England months after Baudin sailed from France, was not calculated to
give pleasure to Ministers. It was to this feeling that Sir Joseph Banks
referred when, in writing to Flinders, he said that he had heard that the
French Government were not too well pleased with Baudin's work.* (*
Girard, writing in 1857, stated that rumours about Baudin's conduct,
circulated before the arrival of Le Geographe, induced the public to
believe that the expedition had been abortive, without useful results,
and that it was to the interest of the Government to forget all about it.
F. Peron, page 46. But Girard cites no authority for the statement, and
as he was not born in 1804, he is not himself an authoritative witness.
He merely repeated Freycinet's assertions.)

The distinguished men of science who stood at the head of the Institute
of France were best qualified to judge of the value of the work done; and
they at least spoke decisively in its praise. The collections brought
home by Le Naturaliste had included one hundred and eighty cases of
minerals and animals, four cases of dried plants, three large casks of
specimens of timber, two boxes of seeds, and sixty tubs of living
plants.* (* Moniteur, 14th Messidor, Revolutionary Year 11 (July 3,
1803).) On June 9, 1806, a Committee of the Institute, consisting of
Cuvier, Laplace, Bougainville, Fleurieu, and Lacepede, furnished a report
based upon an examination of the scientific specimens and the manuscript
of the first volume of the Voyage de Decouvertes, which, in the meantime,
had been written by Peron. They referred in terms of warm eulogy to the
industry which had collected more than one hundred thousand specimens; to
the new species discovered, estimated by the professors at the Musee at
two thousand five hundred; and to the care and skill displayed by Peron
in describing and classifying, a piece of work appealing with especial
force to the co-ordinating intelligence of Cuvier. They directed
attention to the observations made by the naturalist upon the British
colony at Port Jackson; and their language on this subject may be deemed
generous in view of the fact that England and France were then at war.
"M. Peron," reported the savants, "has applied himself particularly to
studying the details of that vast system of colonisation which is being
developed at once upon a great continent, upon innumerable islands, and
upon the wide ocean. His work in that respect should be of the greatest
interest for the philosopher and the statesman. Never, perhaps, did a
subject more interesting and more curious offer itself to the meditation
of either, than the colony of Botany Bay, so long misunderstood in
Europe."* (* The colony was not at Botany Bay, though the mistake was
common enough even in England. But the champion error on that subject was
that of Dumas, who, in Les Trois Mousquetaires, chapter 52--the period,
as "every schoolboy knows," of Cardinal Richelieu--represents Milady as
reflecting bitterly on her fate, and fearing that D'Artagnan would
transport her "to some loathsome Botany Bay," a century and a quarter
before Captain Cook discovered it! Dumas, however, was a law unto himself
in such matters.) Never, perhaps, was there a more shining example of the
powerful influence of laws and institutions upon the character of
individuals and peoples. To transform the most redoubtable highwaymen,
the most abandoned thieves of England, into honest and peaceable
citizens; to make laborious husbandmen of them; to effect the same
revolution in the characters of the vilest women; to force them, by
infallible methods, to become honest wives and excellent mothers of
families; to take the young and preserve them, by the most assiduous
care, from the contagion of their reprobate parents, and so to prepare a
generation more virtuous than that which it succeeds: such is the
touching spectacle that these new English colonies present."

The passage may be compared with Peron's own observations on the same
subject, given in Chapter 9. A more erroneous view of the effects of
convict colonisation could hardly have been conveyed; but the paragraph
may have been written to catch the eye of Napoleon, who was a strong
believer in transportation as a remedial punishment for serious crime,
and had spoken in favour of it in the Council of State during the
discussions on the Civil Code.* (* See Thibaudeau, Memoires sur le
Consulat, English edition, translated by G.K. Fortescue, LL.D., London
1908 page 180. Transportation, said Napoleon, "is in accord with public
opinion, and is prescribed by humane considerations. The need for it is
so obvious that we should provide for it at once in the Civil Code. We
have now in our prisons six thousand persons who are doing nothing, who
cost a great deal of money, and who are always escaping. There are thirty
to forty highwaymen in the south who are ready to surrender to justice on
condition that they are transported. Certainly we ought to settle the
question now, while we have it in our minds. Transportation is
imprisonment, certainly, but in a cell more than thirty feet square." The
highwaymen mentioned by Bonaparte must have been remarkable persons. It
was so like highwaymen to wish to be arrested! Perhaps there were also
birds in the south who were willing to be caught on condition that salt
was put on their tails.)

In addition to these representations, Peron was accorded an interview
with the Minister of Marine, Decres, when, supported by Fleurieu and
other members of the Institute, he explained what the expedition had
done, and exhibited specimens of his collections and of Lesueur's
drawings. Champagny, the Minister of the Interior, was also induced to
listen to the eloquent pleading of the naturalist. As a result, the
Government resolved to publish; and in 1807 appeared the first volume of
the text, together with a thin folio atlas containing a number of
beautiful drawings and two charts. The books were issued under the
superscription, "par ordre de S.M. L'Empereur et Roi." On Sunday, January
12, 1808--"apres la messe"--Peron, who was accompanied by Lesueur, one of
the artists, had the honour of being admitted to the presence of the
Emperor, and presented him with a copy of the work.* (* Moniteur, January
13, 1808.) The naturalist became somewhat of a favourite with the Empress
Josephine, who on several occasions sent a carriage to his lodgings to
take him to Malmaison; and she treated him "as a good mother would have
treated a dear son."* (* Girard, F. Peron page 50.) He gave to her a pair
of black swans from Australia, and the Empress generously discharged
debts which he had incurred in acquiring part of his collection.

Peron died of a throat disease on December 14, 1810, just seventeen days
after the liberated Flinders reached England. He was buried at Cerilly,
where a monument, designed by Lesueur, marks his grave. At the time of
his death he had not quite finished writing the second volume of the
Voyage de Decouvertes. The conclusion of the work was therefore entrusted
to Louis de Freycinet, who had already been commissioned to produce the
atlas of charts.

Of Peron's personal character, and of the value of his scientific work,
nothing but high praise can be written. He was but a young man when he
died. Had he lived, we cannot doubt that he would have filled an
important place among French men of science, for his diligence was
coupled with insight, and his love of research was as deep as his
aptitude for it was keen. A pleasant picture of the man was penned by
Kerandren, who had been one of the surgeons on the expedition to
Australia. "Peron," he said* (* Moniteur, January 24, 1811. The Moniteur
of June 7, 1812, also contained a eulogy on Peron delivered before the
Societe Medicale d'emulation de Paris, by A.J.B. Louis.), "carried upon
his face the expression of kindliness and sensibility. The fervour of his
mind, the vivacity of his character, were tempered by the extreme
goodness of his heart. He made himself useful to most of those who were
the companions of his voyage. There was joined to his confidence in his
own ability, a great modesty. He was so natural--I would even say so
candid--that it was impossible to resist the charm of his manners and his

Apart from his authorship of the first and part of the second volume of
the Voyage de Decouvertes, Peron wrote a number of short "memoires sur
divers sujets," suggested to his mind by observations made during the
voyage. One of the most valuable of these, from a scientific point of
view, was an essay upon the causes of phosphorescence in the sea,
frequently observed in tropical and subtropical regions, but occasionally
in European waters.*

(* Crabbe described it admirably in The Borough (9 103):

"And now your view upon the ocean turn,
And there the splendour of the waves discern;
Cast but a stone, or strike them with an oar,
And you shall flames within the deep explore;
Or scoop the stream phosphoric as you stand,
And the cold flames shall flash along your hand;
When, lost in wonder, you shall walk and gaze
On weeds that sparkle and on waves that blaze.)

Although Peron was not the first naturalist to explain that this aspect
of floating fire given to the waves was due to the presence of multitudes
of living organisms, he was the first naturalist to describe their
structure and functional processes.* (* Phipson on Phosphorescence (1862)
page 113, mentions that as early as 1749 and 1750, Vianetti and
Grixellini, two Venetians, discovered in the waters of the Adriatic
quantities of luminous animalculae; and the true cause of the phenomena
must have occurred to many of those who witnessed it, though groundless
and absurd theories were current. Of the creature discovered and
described by Peron, Phipson says that it is "one of the most curious of
animals. It belongs to the tribe of Tunicata. Each individual resembles a
minute cylinder of glowing phosphorus. Sometimes they are seen adhering
together in such prodigious numbers that the ocean appears as if covered
with an enormous mass of shining phosphorus or molten lava." Professor
Moseley investigated the Pyrosoma while with the Challenger expedition.
He wrote: "A giant Pyrosoma was caught by us in the deep-sea trawl. It
was like a great sac, with its walls of jelly about an inch in thickness.
It was four feet long and ten inches in diameter. When a Pyrosoma is
stimulated by having its surface touched, the phosphorescent light breaks
out just at the spot stimulated, and then spreads over the surface of the
colony to the surrounding animals. I wrote my name with my finger on the
surface of the giant Pyrosoma as it lay on deck, and my name came out in
a few seconds in letters of fire." The author owes this last reference to
an excellent paper on "Phosphorescence in Plants and Animals," by Miss
Freda Bage, M.Sc., printed in the Victorian Naturalist, 21 page 100
November 1904.) His treatise on the Pyrosoma atlanticum is an extremely
interesting example of his scientific work. The creature is weighed and
measured; its appearance is described; then it is carefully taken to
pieces and its structure and internal organisation are minutely detailed;
next there is an account of its functions, and an explanation of how the
phosphorescent appearance is produced; and finally its mode of life,
nutrition, and system of generation are dealt with. Peron collects a
number of specimens, places them in a vessel filled with sea-water, and
observes how, at rhythmic intervals, the creature alternately contracts
and dilates in a fashion analogous to the art of breathing among more
highly organised animals; and he notices that the phosphorescence appears
and disappears with these movements, being most fully displayed when the
creature's body is most contracted, and disappearing during the moments
of most complete expansion. Here we have careful examination and
observation, study of the organism in its native habitat, anatomical
dissection, and experiment--a piece of biological work exceedingly well
done. Cuvier would have read the piece with satisfaction in his pupil.

Other Memoires by Peron, on the temperature of the sea on the surface and
at measured depths; on the zoology of the Austral regions; on dysentery
in hot countries and the medicinal use of the betel-nut; on sea animals,
such as seals; and on the art of maintaining live animals in zoological
collections, were valuable; and the subjects on which he wrote are
mentioned as indicating the range of his scientific interests. One of his
pieces of work which, naturally, aroused much interest in Europe, was an
extremely curious investigation relative to the physiological
peculiarities of females of the Bushman tribes in South Africa, where
Peron made an inland journey for the purpose.* (* There is a technical
note on this delicate subject in Girard's F. Peron, Naturaliste, Voyageur
aux Terres Australes (Paris, 1857); a book which also gives a good
summary of Peron's scientific work.)

When he died, Peron had not had time to apply himself adequately to the
enormous mass of material that he had collected. His fertile and curious
mind, we cannot doubt, would have enriched the scientific literature of
France with many other monographs. The deaths at sea of Bernier and
Deleuze also deprived the records of the expedition of contributions
which they would have made on their special lines of research.
Collections of specimens and piles of memoranda, uninformed by the
intelligence of those to whom their meaning is most apparent, are a
barren result.

Peron's biological work was done in accordance with the spirit and
principles of Cuvier, who stood at the head of European savants in his
own field. "Trained for four years in Cuvier's school," wrote the
naturalist, "I had for guide not only his method and his principles, but
manuscript instructions that he had had the goodness to write for me on
my departure from Europe." Cuvier insisted on the importance of structure
and function; "to name well you must know well." The part played by the
creature in its own share of the world, its nervous organisation, its
life as involved in its form, were essentials upon which he laid stress
in his teaching; and he imparted to those who came under his influence a
breadth of view, a feeling for the unity of nature, that is quite modern,
and has governed all the greatest of his successors. "Not only is each
being an organism, the whole universe is one, but many million times more
complicated; and that which the anatomist does for a single animal--for
the microcosm--the naturalist is to do for the macrocosm, for the
universal animal, for the play of this immense aggregation of partial
organisms." Detailed research, coupled with an outlook on the whole realm
of nature--that was the essential principle of Cuvier's science; and it
is because we can recognise in Peron a man who had profitably sat at the
feet of the great master, that his death before he had applied his zeal
to the material collected with so much labour is the more deeply to be

The few paragraphs in which Peron expressed his views regarding the
modification of species may be quoted. It has to be remembered that they
were written in the early years of the nineteenth century, when ideas on
this subject were in a state of uncertainty rather than of transition,
and more than half a century before Darwin gave an entirely new direction
to thought by publishing his great hypothesis. Cuvier at this time
believed in the fixity of species--constancy in the type with
modification in the form of individuals; but his opinions underwent some
amount of change in the latter part of his career. The point argued with
such gravity, and the conclusion which Peron stresses with the
impressiveness of italics, are not such as a naturalist nowadays would
think it worth while to elaborate, namely, that organisms having a
general structural similarity are modified by climate and environment. It
would not require a voyage to another hemisphere to convince a schoolboy
of that truth nowadays. But the paragraphs have a certain historical
value, for they put what was evidently an important idea to an
accomplished naturalist a century ago. They present us, in that aspect,
with an interesting bit of pre-Darwinian generalisation.

"Before natural history had acquired a strict and appropriate language of
its own," wrote Peron,* (* Voyage de Decouvertes, 1824 edition 3 243.)
"when its methods were defective and incomplete, travellers and
naturalists confused under one name, in imitation of each other, so to
speak, animals which were essentially different. There is no class of the
animal kingdom which, in the actual state of things, does not include
several orbicular species; that is to say, several species which are in
some degree common to all parts of the globe, however they may be
modified by geographical and climatic conditions. Other species, although
confined to certain latitudes, are, however, usually regarded as common
to all climates, and to all seas comprised within these latitudes. The
existence of these last animals is regarded as being independent of
latitude. To confine ourselves to marine species, one sees it constantly
repeated in books of the most estimable character, that the great whale
(Balaena mysticetus, Linn.) is found equally amidst the frozen waters of
Spitzbergen and in the Antarctic seas; that the sharks and seals of
various kinds are found in equally innumerable tribes in seas the
farthest apart in the two hemispheres; that the turtle and the tortoise
inhabit indifferently the Atlantic, the Indian, and the great equinoctial

"Were one to consult only reason and analogy, such assertions would
appear to be doubtful, as a matter of experience they are found to be
absolutely false. Let any one glance at the evidence upon which these
pretended identities rest; one will then see that they exist only in the
names, and that there is not a single WELL-KNOWN animal belonging to the
northern hemisphere, which is not specifically different from all other
animals EQUALLY WELL KNOWN in the opposite hemisphere. I have taken the
trouble to make that difficult comparison in the case of the cetacea, the
seals, etc.; I have examined many histories of voyages; I have gathered
together all the descriptions of animals; and I have recognised important
differences between the most similar of these supposedly identical

"Nobody, I dare say, has collected more animals than I have done in the
southern hemisphere. I have observed and described them in their own
habitat. I have brought several thousands of kinds to Europe; they are
deposited in the Natural History Museum at Paris. Let any one compare
these numerous animals with those of our hemisphere, and the problem will
soon be resolved, not only in regard to the more perfectly organised
species, but even as to those which are simpler in structure, and which,
in that regard, it would appear, should show less variety in nature...In
all that multitude of animals from the southern hemisphere, one will
observe that there is not one which can be precisely matched in northern
seas; and one will be forced to conclude from such a reflective
examination--such an elaborate and prolonged comparison--as I have been

"More than that--and it is in this respect above all that the
inexhaustible variety of nature shines forth--however imperfect each of
these animals may be, each has received its own distinct features. It is
to certain localities that they are fixed; it is there that they are
found to be most numerous, largest in size and most beautiful; and to the
extent that they are found most distant from the appropriate place, the
individuals degenerate and the species becomes gradually extinguished."

On the geographical side the series of causes described in preceding
pages prevented the achievement of that measure of success which the
French Government and the Institute had a right to expect. While Baudin
dallied, Flinders snatched the crown of accomplishment by his own
diligent and intelligent application to the work entrusted to him in the
proper field of activity. The French filled in the map of eastern
Tasmania, and contributed details to the knowledge of the north-west
coast of Australia; but what they did constitutes a poor set-off against
what they failed to do. The chief feature of interest, in an estimation
of the work done, is the publication of the first map of Australia which
represented the whole outline of the continent--saving defects--with any
approach to completeness. The Carte Generale of 1807 showed the world for
the first time what the form of Australia really was, with its south
coasts fairly delimited, and the island of Tasmania set in its proper
position in relation to them. But the circumstances in which this result
was effected were not such as secured any honour to the expedition, and
must, when the facts became known, have been deeply deplored by
instructed French people. Flinders was working at his own complete map of
Australia in his miserable prison at Mauritius while his splendidly won
credit was being filched from him; and it was merely the misfortune that
placed him in the power of General Decaen that debarred him from issuing
what should have been the first finished outline of the vast island which
he had been the earliest to circumnavigate. Historically the Carte
Generale is interesting, but no honour attaches to it.

Yet full praise must be given to Louis de Freycinet for the charts issued
by him. He drew them largely from material prepared by others, and much
of that material, as we have seen, was rough and poor. As a piece of
artistic workmanship, the folio of charts issued by Freycinet in 1812 was
a fine performance, and fairly earned for him the command of the
expedition entrusted to him by the Government of Louis XVIII. Before the
volume was published by the order of Napoleon, it was submitted by the
Minister of Marine to Vice-Admiral Rosily, Director-General du Depot de
la Marine. That officer's report* (* Printed in the Moniteur, January 15,
1813.) gave an account of the work which Freycinet had done not only in
the drawing but in regard to the actual engraving of the charts. "M.
Freycinet," said the Vice-Admiral, "who has done the principal part of
this work, was more capable than any one else known to us of
accomplishing such a result. It is to him that we owe the preparation of
this fine atlas. He has neglected no means of giving to it the last
degree of perfection. He has himself made the drawings of the charts and
plans, and then he has reproduced them upon the copper-plates, and has
engraved the scales of latitude and longitude by a new method perfected
by himself, and which assures the exactitude of his work. The beauty of
the engravings, and the execution of the work in general, leave nothing
to be desired, and testify to the care that he has devoted to make the
collection of charts one of the most useful of works in promoting the
progress of hydrography."

The praise thus officially bestowed upon Freycinet's work will be felt to
be deserved by any one who studies the atlas of 1812; but admiration of
the workmanship will not commit the careful student to an equally cordial
opinion concerning the completeness and accuracy of the charts as
representations of the coasts traversed by the expedition. The south
coast--the most important part, since here the field was entirely
fresh--was very faulty in outline, and in other parts where Baudin's
vessels had opportunities for doing complete work, important features
were missed. And at the back of it all there looms the shadow of Matthew
Flinders, the merit of whose own work shines out all the brighter for the
contrast.* (* A remarkable example of the way to avoid difficult
questions by ignoring them is afforded by Girard's book on Peron, which,
throughout its 278 pages, contains no reference whatever to Flinders. It
devotes forty pages to the voyage, but absolutely suppresses all
reference to the Encounter Bay incident, the imprisonment of Flinders,
and other questions concerning him. Yet Girard's book was "couronne par
la Societe d'emulation de d'Allier." There should have been some
"rosemary, that's for remembrance," in the crown.)


Further consideration of Napoleon's purposes.
What Australia owes to British sea power.
Influence of the Napoleonic wars.
Fresh points relative to Napoleon's designs.
Absence of evidence.
Consequences of suspicions of French intentions.
Promotion of settlement in Tasmania.
Tardy occupation of Port Phillip.
The Swan River Settlement.
The Westernport scheme.
Lord John Russell's claim of "the Whole" of Australia for the British.
The designs of Napoleon III.
Australia the nursling of sea power.

The question of paramount interest connected with the events considered
in the foregoing pages is whether or not the expedition of 1800 to 1804
had a political purpose. It is hoped that the examination to which the
facts have been subjected has been sufficient to show that it had not. It
was promoted by an academic organisation of learned men for scientific
objects; it was not an isolated effort, but one of a series made by the
French, which had their counterpart in several expeditions despatched by
the British, for the collection of data and the solution of problems of
importance to science; its equipment and personnel showed it to be what
it professed to be; and the work it did, open to serious criticism as it
is in several aspects, indicated that purposes within the scope of the
Institute of France, and not those with which diplomacy and politics were
concerned, were kept in view throughout. So much, it is claimed, has been
demonstrated. But the whole case is not exhausted in what has been
written; and in this final chapter will be briefly set forth a sequence
of reasons which go to show that Bonaparte in 1800 had no thought of
founding a new fatherland for the French in Australasia, or of
establishing upon the great southern continent a rival settlement to that
of the British at Port Jackson.

It may legitimately be suggested that though all the French expeditions
enumerated in a previous chapter, including Baudin's, were promoted for
purposes of discovery, the rulers of France were not without hope that
profit would spring from them in the shape of rich territories or fields
for French exploitation. It is, indeed, extremely likely that such was
the case. Governments, being political organisations, are swayed chiefly
by political considerations, or at any rate are largely affected by them.
When Prince Henry the Navigator fitted out the caravels that crept
timidly down the west coast of Africa, penetrating farther and farther
into the unknown, until a new ocean and new realms at length opened upon
the view he was inspired by the ideal of spreading the Christian religion
and of gaining knowledge about the shape of the world for its own sake;
but he was none the less desirous of securing augmented wealth and
dominion for Portugal.* (* See Beazley, Henry the Navigator pages 139 to
141; and E.J. Payne, in Cambridge Modern History 1 10 to 15.) It was not
solely for faith and science that he:

   "Heaven inspired,
To love of useful glory roused mankind
And in unbounded commerce mixed the world."

Isabella of Castile did not finance Columbus purely for the glory of
discovery. Luis de Santangel and Alonso de Quintanilla, who prevailed
upon her to befriend the daring Genoese, not only used the argument that
the voyage would present an opportunity of "spreading her holy religion,"
but also that it would "replenish her treasury chests."* (* Justin
Winsor, Christopher Columbus page 178.) It is as natural for the
statesman to hope for political advantage as for the man of science to
look for scientific rewards, the geographer for geographical results, the
merchant for extended scope for commerce, from any enterprise of the kind
in which the State concerns itself. It would have been a perfectly proper
aspiration on the part of French statesmen to seek for opportunities of
development in a region as yet scarcely touched by European energy. But
there is no more reason for attributing this motive to Bonaparte in 1800,
than to the Ministers of Louis XV and Louis XVI, or to the Government of
France during the Revolution: and that is the point.

It is to misinterpret the character of the Napoleon Bonaparte who ruled
the Republic in the early period of the Consulate, to suppose him
incapable of wishing to promote research for its own sake. He desired the
glory of his era to depend upon other achievements than those of war. "My
intention certainly is," he said to Thibaudeau, "to multiply the works of
peace. It may be that in the future I shall be better known by them than
by my victories." The Memoires of the shrewd observer to whom the words
were uttered, give us perhaps a more intimate acquaintance with the
Consular Bonaparte than does any other single book; and it is impossible
to study them without deriving the impression that he was at this time
far more than a great soldier. He was, faults notwithstanding, a very
noble and high-minded man. It was easy for the savants of the Institute
to show him what a fine field for enterprise there was in the South Seas;
and though there is not a shred of evidence to indicate that, in
acquiescing in the proposition, he yielded to any other impulse than that
of securing for France the glory of discovery, there may yet have been at
the back of his mind, so to speak, the idea that if good fortune attended
the effort, the French nation might profit otherwise than in repute. To
say so much, however, is not to admit that there is any justification for
thinking that the acquisition of dominion furnished a direct motive for
the expedition. If Bonaparte entertained such a notion he kept it to
himself. There is not a trace of it in his correspondence, or in the
memoirs of those who were intimate with him at this period. One cannot
say what thoughts took shape at the back of a mind like Napoleon's, nor
how far he was looking ahead in anything that he did. One can only judge
from the evidence available. On some of Flinders' charts there are dotted
lines to indicate coasts which he had not been able to explore fully. He
would not set down as a statement of fact what he had not verified.
History, too, has its dotted lines, where supposition fills up gaps for
which we have no certain information. There is no harm in them; there is
some advantage. But we had better take care that they remain dotted lines
until we can ink them over with certainty, and not mistake a possibly
wrong guess for a fact.

It is also necessary to distinguish between the exalted motives of which
we may think the First Consul capable in 1800, and for a year or two
after, and the use he would have made five, eight, or ten years later of
any opportunities of damaging the possessions and the prestige of Great
Britain. In the full tide of his passionate hatred against the nation
that mocked and blocked and defied him at every turn of his foreign
policy, he would unquestionably have been delighted to seize any
opportunity of striking a blow at British power anywhere. He kept Decaen
at Mauritius in the hope that events might favour an attempt on India. He
would have used discoveries made in Australasia, as he would have used
Fulton's steamboat in 1807, to injure his enemy, could he have done so
effectually. But to do that involved the possession of great naval
strength, and the services of an admiral fit to meet upon the high seas
that slim, one-armed, one-eyed man whose energy and genius were equal to
a fleet of frigates to the dogged nation whose hero he was; and in both
these requirements the Emperor was deficient.

Indeed, we can scarcely realise how much Australia owes to Britain's
overwhelming strength upon the blue water at the beginning of the
nineteenth century. But for that, not only France but other European
powers would surely have claimed the right to establish themselves upon
the continent. The proportion of it which the English occupied at the
time was proportionately no more than a fly-speck upon a window pane. She
could not colonise the whole of it, and the small portion that she was
using was a mere convict settlement. Almost any other place would have
done equally well for such a purpose. It needed some tremendous exertion
of strength to enable her to maintain exclusive possession of a whole
continent, such as Spain had vainly professed regarding America in the
sixteenth century. From the point of view of Australian "unity, peace,
and concord," the Napoleonic wars were an immense blessing, however great
an infliction they may have been to old Europe. In an age of European
tranquillity, it is pretty certain that foreign colonisation in Australia
would not have been resisted. Great Britain would not have risked a war
with a friendly power concerning a very distant land, the value and
potentialities of which were far from being immediately obvious. The
Englishman, however, is tremendously assertive when threatened. He will
fight to the last gasp to keep what he really does not want very much, if
only he supposes that his enemy wishes to take a bit of it. It was in
that spirit of pugnacity that he stretched a large muscular hand over the
whole map of Australia, and defied his foes to touch it. Before the great
struggle it would have been quite possible to think of colonising schemes
in the southern hemisphere without seriously contemplating the danger of
collision with the British. But the end of the Napoleonic wars left the
power and prestige of Great Britain upon the sea unchallengeable, and her
possessions out of Europe were placed beyond assail. This position was
fairly established before Napoleon could have made any serious attempt to
annoy or injure the English settlement in Australia. Traced back to
decisive causes, the ownership of Australia was determined on October 21,
1805, when the planks of the Victory were reddened with the life-blood of

The remaining points to be considered are the following.

The Treaty of Amiens was negotiated and signed in 1801 and 1802, while
Baudin's expedition was at sea. Had Napoleon desired to secure a slice of
Australia for the French, here was his opportunity to proclaim what he
wanted. Had he done so, we can have no reasonable doubt that he would
have found the British Government compliant. His Majesty's Ministers were
in a concessionary mood. By that treaty Great Britain surrendered all her
maritime conquests of recent wars, except Trinidad and Ceylon. She gave
up the Cape, Demerara, Berbice, Essequibo, Surinam, Martinique,
Guadeloupe, Minorca, and Malta.* (* Cambridge Modern History 9 75 et seq;
Brodrick and Fotheringham, Political History of England 11 9 et seq.) She
was eagerly desirous for peace. Bread was dear, and England seethed with
discontent. Napoleon was fully aware that he was in a position to force
concessions. King George's advisers were limp. "England," wrote
Thibaudeau, who knew his master's mind, "was driven by sheer necessity to
make peace; not so Bonaparte, whose reasons were founded on the desire of
the French nation for peace, the fact that the terms of the treaty were
glorious for France, and the recognition by his bitterest enemy of the
position which the nation had bestowed upon him."* (* Fortescue's English
edition page 18.) The value of Australia at this time was scarcely
perceived by Great Britain at all. Sydney was just a tip for human
refuse, and a cause of expense, not of profit or advantage. The only
influential man in England who believed in a future for the country was
Sir Joseph Banks; and he, in 1799, had written to Governor Hunter: "The
situation of Europe is at present so critical, and His Majesty's
Ministers so fully employed in business of the highest importance, that
it is scarce possible to gain a moment's audience on any subject but
those which stand foremost in their minds, and colonies of all kinds, you
may be assured, are now put in the background...Your colony is a most
valuable appendage to Great Britain, and I flatter myself we shall,
before it is long, see her Ministers made sensible of its real value."*
(* Banks to Hunter, February 1, 1799. Historical Records of New South
Wales 3 532.) If that was the feeling in 1799, we can imagine how a claim
to the right to found a French settlement in Australia during the
nerveless regime of Addington would have been received. It would not have
delayed the signing of the Treaty of Amiens by one hour. England at that
time would not have risked a frigate or spent an ounce of powder on
resisting such a demand. But the subject does not appear to have been
even mentioned during the negotiations.

Nor was it mentioned by Napoleon during the years of his captivity at St.
Helena. He talked about his projects, his failures, his successes, with
O'Meara, Montholon, Las Cases, Admiral Malcolm, Antommarchi, Gourgaud,
and others. Australia and the Baudin expedition were never discussed,
though Surgeon O'Meara knew all about Flinders' imprisonment, and
mentioned it incidentally in a footnote to illustrate the hardships
brought upon innocent non-belligerents during the Napoleonic wars.
Indeed, an interesting passage in O'Meara's Napoleon at Saint Helena* (*
Edition of 1888, 2 129.) causes a doubt as to whether Napoleon had a
clear recollection of the Flinders case at all. It is true that General
Decaen's aide-de-camp had mentioned it to him in 1804, and that Banks had
written to him on the subject; but he had many larger matters to occupy
him, and possibly gave no more than passing thought to it. O'Meara
records that among Napoleon's visitors at the rock was an Englishman, Mr.
Manning, who was travelling in France for the benefit of his health in
1805. He had been arrested, but on writing to Napoleon stating his case,
was released. He mentioned the incident in the course of the
conversation, and expressed his gratitude. "What protection had you?"
asked Napoleon. "Had you a letter from Sir Joseph Banks to me?" Manning
replied that he had no letter from any one, but that Napoleon had ordered
his release without the intervention of any influential person. The
occurrence of Banks's name to Napoleon's memory in connection with an
application for the release of a traveller may indicate that a
reminiscence of the Flinders case lingered in the mind of the illustrious
exile. So much cannot, however, be stated positively, because Flinders
was not the only prisoner in behalf of whom the President of the Royal
Society had interested himself, though his was the only case which
attracted a very large amount of public attention. But what is chiefly
significant is the absence of any reference to Australia and Baudin's
expedition in the St. Helena conversations, in which the whole field of
Napoleonic policy was traversed with amplitude.

Had the selection of a site for settlement, rather than research, been
intended, it seems most likely that Napoleon, with his trained eye for
strategic advantages, would have directed particular if not exclusive
attention to be paid to the north coast of Australia. If he had taken the
map in hand and studied it with a view to obtaining a favourable
position, he would probably have put his finger upon the part of the
coast where Port Darwin is situated, and would have said, "Search
carefully just there: see if a harbour can be discovered which may be
used as a base." The coast was entirely unoccupied; the French might have
established themselves securely before the British knew what they had
done; and had they found and fortified Port Darwin, they would have
captured the third point of a triangle--the other two being Mauritius and
Pondicherry--which might have made them very powerful in the Indian
Ocean. And that is precisely what the East India Company's directors
feared that Napoleon intended. One of them, the Hon. C.F. Greville, wrote
to Brown, the naturalist of the Investigator, "I hope the French ships of
discovery will not station themselves on the north coast of New
Holland";* (* January 4, 1802. Historical Records of New South Wales 4
677.) and the Company, recognising their own interest in the matter,
voted six hundred pounds as a present to the captain, staff, and crew of
the Investigator before she sailed from England. But instead of what was
feared, the French ships devoted principal attention to the south, where
there was original geographical work to do--a natural course, their
object being discovery, but not what might have been expected had their
real design been acquisition. Peron censured Baudin because he examined
part of the west coast before proceeding to the unknown south; and when
at length Le Geographe did sail north, the work done there was very
perfunctory. Baudin himself was no fighting man; nor was there with the
expedition a military engineer or any officer capable of reporting upon
strategic situations, or competent to advise as to the establishment of a
fort or a colony. Captain Hamelin and Lieutenant Henri de Freycinet
afterwards saw active service with the Navy, but the staff knew more
about flowers, beetles, butterflies, and rocks than about fortifications
and colonisation.

In recent years research has concentrated powerful rays of light on the
intricacies of Napoleonic policy. Archives have been thrown open,
ransacked, catalogued and codified. Memoirs by the score, letters by the
hundred, have been published. Documents by the thousand have been
studied. A battalion of eager students have handled this vast mass of
material. The piercing minds of eminent scholars have drilled into it to
elucidate problems incidental to Napoleon's era. But nothing has been
brought to light which indicates that Australia was within the radius of
his designs.

The idea that the publication of the Terre Napoleon maps, with their
unfounded pretensions to discoveries, was a move on Napoleon's part
towards asserting a claim upon territory in Australia, is surely
untenable by any one with any appreciation of the irony of circumstances.

No man in history had a deeper realisation of the dynamics of empire than
Napoleon had. A nation, as he well knew, holds its possessions by the
power behind its grasp. If he had wanted a slice of Australia, and had
been able to take and hold it, of what political use to him would have
been a few maps, even with an eagle's picture on one of them? When his
unconquerable legions brought Italy under his sway, absorbed the Low
Countries, and established his dominion on the Rhine, the Elbe, and the
Danube, he based no claims on maps and documents. He took because he
could. An empire is not like a piece of suburban property, based on
title-deeds drawn by a family solicitor. Its validity is founded on
forces--the forces of ships, armies, manhood, treaties, funds, national
goodwill, sound government, commercial enterprise, all the forces that
make for solidity, resistance, permanence. Freycinet's maps would have
been of no more use to Napoleon in getting a footing in Australia than a
postage stamp would be in shifting one of the pyramids. He was capable of
many mean things, but we gravely undervalue his capacity for seeing to
the heart of a problem if we suppose him both mean and silly enough to
conspire to cheat Matthew Flinders out of his well and hardly won
honours, on the supposition that the maps would help him to assert a
claim upon Australia. He could have made good no such claim in the teeth
of British opposition without sea power; and that he had not.

The consequences of the suspicion that Napoleon intended to seize a site
in Australia, were, however, quite as important as if he had formally
announced his intention of doing so. What men believe to be true, not
what is true, determines their action; and there was quite enough in the
circumstances that occurred to make Governor King and his superiors in
England resolve upon decisive action. King having communicated his
beliefs to Ministers, Lord Hobart, Secretary of State for War and the
Colonies, in June 1803, wrote a despatch in which he authorised the
colonisation of Van Diemen's Land by the removal of part of the
establishment at Norfolk Island to Port Dalrymple--"the advantageous
position of which, upon the southern coast of Van Diemen's Land, and near
the entrance of Bass Straits, renders it, in a political view,
particularly necessary that a settlement should be formed there."* (* See
Backhouse Walker, Early Tasmania page 22.) It will be observed that the
Secretary of State's geographical knowledge of the countries under his
regime was quite remarkable. A man who should describe Glasgow as being
on the southern coast of England, near the eastern entrance of the
Channel, would be just about as near the truth as Lord Hobart managed to
get.* (* Froude's amusing story of Lord Palmerston, when, on forming a
Ministry, he thought he would have to take the Secretaryship of State for
the Colonies himself, comes to mind. He said to Sir Arthur Helps, "Come
upstairs with me, Helps; we will look at the maps, and you shall show me
where these places are." Froude's Oceana page 12.)

King moved immediately. He despatched the Lady Nelson and the Albion on
August 31 to establish a settlement on the river Derwent, with Lieutenant
John Bowen in charge; and in September 1803 the first British colony in
Tasmania was planted. It had a variety of adverse experiences before at
length the beautiful site of the city of Hobart, at the foot of Mount
Wellington, was determined upon; but here, at all events, was a
beginning, and the tale from that time forward has been one of steady

As soon as the imagined threat of French invasion lost its impulsion, the
colonising energy of the governing authorities subsided. The Tasmanian
settlement remained and grew, but Trafalgar removed all fear of foreign
interference. Hence it was that nearly forty years elapsed before any
real effort was made to settle the lands within Port Phillip. Then the
first energies that were devoted towards creating the great state of
Victoria were not directed by the Government, which no longer had any
political motive for forcing matters, but were made by enterprising
stock-owners searching for pastures. It was not till 1835 that John
Batman pushed up the river Yarra, found the site of the present city of
Melbourne, and said, "This will be the place for a village!" Trafalgar
and the security which it gave to British possessions oversea made all
the difference between the early occupation of Tasmania for fear the
French should take it, and the leisurely and non-official settlement of
the Port Phillip district, when it was quite certain that no foreign
power could set a foot upon it without British permission.

There was one other occasion when the recurrence of French exploring
ships in Australian waters revived the idea that foreign settlement on
some portion of the continent was contemplated. just as the appearance of
Baudin's expedition at the commencement of the century expedited the
colonisation of Tasmania, and prompted a tentative occupation of Port
Phillip, so the renewed activity of the French in the South Seas during
the years 1820 to 1826, was the immediate cause of the foundation of the
Swan River Settlement (1829), the nucleus of the present state of Western
Australia. Steps were also taken to form an establishment at Westernport,
where, on the arrival of H.M.S. Fly with two brigs conveying troops,
evidences were found showing that the French navigators had already paid
a call, without, however, making any movement in the direction of
"effective occupation." The Swan River Settlement grew, but the
Westernport expedition packed up its kit and returned to Sydney when the
alarm subsided.

There is perhaps some warrant for believing that the French Government,
when it sent out Freycinet in the Uranie and the Physicienne from 1817 to
1820, and the Baron de Bougainville in the Esperance and the Thetis from
1824 to 1826, desired to collect information with a possible view to
colonise in some part of Australasia; though the fear that these
commanders were themselves commissioned to "plant" a colony was quite
absurd, and the express exploratory purpose of their voyages was
abundantly justified by results. Lord John Russell, in after years,
related that "during my tenure of the Colonial office, a gentleman
attached to the French Government called upon me. He asked how much of
Australia was claimed as the dominion of Great Britain. I answered, 'The
whole,' and with that answer he went away."* (* Russell's Recollections
and Suggestions (1875) page 203.) Lord John Russell was at the head of
the Colonial Office in the second Melbourne Administration, 1839 to 1841,
a long time after the French explorers had gone home and published the
histories of their voyages. But it is still quite possible that the
researches made by Freycinet and the Baron de Bougainville prompted the
inquiry of the Colonial Secretary's visitor. The phrase, "a gentleman
attached to the French Government," is rather vague. The question was
clearly not asked by the French Ambassador, or it would have been
addressed to the Foreign Secretary, who at that time was Lord Palmerston,
and whose reply would certainly not have fallen short of Lord John's,
either in emphasis or distinctness. It may well be, however, that the
Government of King Louis Philippe--whose chief advisers during the period
were Thiers (1839 to 1840) and Guizot (from July 1840)--desired to make
their inquiry in a semi-official manner to avoid causing offence.

Yet the fact cannot escape notice, that at this particular time the
French were busily laying the foundation of that new colonial dominion
with which they have persevered, with admirable results, since the
collapse of their oversea power during Napoleon's regime. Though their
aptitude for colonisation had been "unhappily rendered sterile by the
faults of their European policy,"* (* Fallot, L'Avenir Colonial de la
France page 4.) the more far-seeing among their statesmen and publicists
did not lose sight of the ideal of creating a new field for the diffusion
of French civilisation. They commenced in 1827 that colonising enterprise
in Algiers which has converted "a sombre and redoubtable barbarian coast"
into "a twin sister of the Riviera of Nice, charming as she, upon the
other side of the Mediterranean."* (* Hanotaux, L'Energie Francaise
(1902) page 284.)

Lord John Russell was not likely to be regardless of this movement, nor
unaware of the strongly marked current of opinion in France in favour of

Twenty years later Lord John Russell had the position of Australia, as a
factor in world politics, brought under his notice again, through a
document to which he evidently attached importance, and which is still
the legitimate subject of historical curiosity. He was then Secretary of
State for Foreign Affairs in the second Palmerston Administration (1859
to 1865). A great change had meanwhile taken place affecting the economic
value of this large island in the South Seas. Apart from the growth of
its commerce and the productive capacity of its great fertile areas, the
gold discoveries of the early fifties--the nuggets of Ballarat and the
rich auriferous gravels of wide belts of country--had turned the eyes of
the world towards the land of whose agricultural and mineral resources so
little had been previously known. France, too, had passed through a new
series of changes in her very mutable modern history, and a Bonaparte
once more occupied the throne, as Napoleon III.

One day the British Foreign Minister received, from a source of which we
know nothing--but the Foreign Office in the Palmerstonian epoch was
exceedingly well informed--a communication which, having read, he did not
deposit among the official documents at Downing Street, but carefully
sealed up and placed among his own private papers. His biographer, Sir
Spencer Walpole, tells us all that is at present known about this
mysterious piece of writing. "There is still among Lord John's papers,"
he says, "a simple document which purports to be a translation of a
series of confidential questions issued by Napoleon III on the
possibility of a French expedition, secretly collected in different
ports, invading, conquering, and holding Australia. How the paper reached
the Foreign Office, what credit was attached to it, what measures were
suggested by it, there is no evidence to show. This only is certain. Lord
John dealt with it as he occasionally dealt with confidential papers
which he did not think it right to destroy, but which he did not wish to
be known. He enclosed it in an envelope, sealed it with his own seal, and
addressed it to himself. It was so found after his death."* (* Walpole,
Life of Lord John Russell 2 177.)

Oddly enough, the period within which Lord John received the piece of
information which he carefully kept to himself in the manner described,
corresponds with that of the most notorious effort of Napoleon III to
assert his power beyond the confines of Europe.

In 1853, the year after the establishment of the second Empire, the
Government of Napoleon III had annexed New Caledonia, commencing on this
island the policy of transportation in the very year in which Great
Britain ceased to send convicts to Australia. Thus for the first time did
France secure a footing in the South. This was a safe step to take, as
the annexation was performed with the concurrence of Great Britain. But
Napoleon's oversea move of nine years later was rash in the extreme.

From 1862 to 1866--after a joint Anglo-French-Spanish movement to compel
the Republic of Mexico to discharge her debts to European bondholders,
and after a disagreement between the allies which led to the withdrawal
of the British and the Spaniards--forty thousand French troops were
engaged upon the quixotic task of disciplining Mexican opinion,
suppressing civil war, and imposing upon the people an unwelcome and
absurd sovereign in the person of Maximilian of Austria. His throne
endured as long as the French battalions remained to support it. When
they withdrew, Maximilian was deposed, court-marshalled, and shot. The
wild folly of the Mexican enterprise, from which France had nothing to
gain, illustrated in an expensive form the unbalanced judgment and the
soaring megalomaniac propensities of "the man of December." That he
should institute such inquiries as are indicated by the document
described by Lord John Russell's biographer, even though the preservation
of friendly relations with Great Britain was essential to him, was quite
in accordance with the "somewhat crafty" character of the man of whom a
contemporary French historian has said: "He knew how to keep his own
counsel, how to brood over a design, and how to reveal it suddenly when
he felt that his moment had come."* (* M. Albert Thomas in Cambridge
Modern History 11 287.) It is a little singular, however, that Russell
did not allude to the mysterious paper when he wrote his Recollections
and Suggestions, five years after the fall of Napoleon III. There was no
imperative need for secrecy then, and the passage quoted from his book
indicates that the welfare of Australia was under his consideration.

The facts set forth in the preceding pages are sufficient to show that
the people of no portion of the British Empire have greater reason to be
grateful for the benefits conferred by the naval strength maintained by
the mother country, during the past one hundred years, than have those
who occupy Australia. Their country has indeed been, in a special degree,
the nursling of sea power. By naval predominance, and that alone, the way
has been kept clear for the unimpeded development, on British
constitutional lines, of a group of flourishing states forming "one
continent-isle," whose bounds are "the girdling seas alone."


ALARD, Eloge Historique de Francois Peron, redacteur du Voyage de
Decouvertes aux Terres Australes. Paris, 1811.

Almanac de Gotha, 1811, contains a good narrative of the Baudin
expedition, founded on Peron's first volume, giving an account of the
discoveries claimed to have been made.

Annual Register, 1800 to 1814. Various References.

AUDIAT, Louis, Peron, sa vie, ses voyages (en Oceanie) et ses ouvrages.
Moulins, 1855.

AULARD, A., Paris sous le Consulat. 5 volumes. Paris, 1903.

BANKS, THOMAS, System of Universal Geography. 2 volumes. London, 1790.

BAUDIN, NICOLAS, Lettre sur la Nouvelle Hollande, in Annales du Musee
d'Histoire Naturelle, volume 2 pages 415 to 422. Paris, 1809.

BECKE, LOUIS, and JEFFERY, WALTER, Naval Pioneers of Australia. London,

BLADEN, F.M. (Editor), Historical Records of New South Wales. 7 volumes.
Sydney, 1893 to 1901. The most important collection of Australian
historical material up to the year 1812; prints all the important
documents preserved in the Record Office, Colonial Office, and Admiralty.
An indispensable work.

BLAIR, DAVID, Cyclopaedia of Australasia. Melbourne, 1811. Useful, but to
be used with caution.

BONWICK, J., Port Phillip Settlement. London, 1883.

BORY ST. VINCENT, J.B.G., "Histoire de la traversee du Capitaine Baudin
jusqu'au Port Louis de L'Ile Maurice, in Voyage dans les quatre
principales iles des mers d'Afrique, 1801 to 1802. 3 volumes. Paris,

BOUGAINVILLE, LOUIS ANTOINE DE, Voyage autour du monde par la fregate du
roi La Boudeux et la flute L'Etoile, en 1766 a 1769. Paris, 1771;
Neuchatel, 1773.

BOUGAINVILLE, THE BARON DE, journal de la Navigation du monde de la
fregate La Thetis et de la corvette L'Esperance pendant les annees 1824
to 1826. Paris, 1828 to 1837.

BROSSES, CHARLES DE, Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes. 2
volumes. Paris, 1756. The series of organised French expeditions to the
South Seas was largely impelled by the publication of this work.

BURNEY, JAMES, Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Sea
or Pacific Ocean. 5 volumes. London, 1803 to 1817.

BURNEY, JAMES, Voyages and Discoveries in the South Seas. 2 volumes.
London, 1806.

CALLANDER, JOHN, Terra Australis Cognita. 3 volumes Edinburgh, 1766 to

CHEVALIER, E., Histoire de la marine francaise sous le Consulat et
l'Empire. Paris, 1886.

CLEVELAND'S Voyages, volume 1 page 35. London, 1842.

COCKBURN, RODNEY, Nomenclature of South Australia. Adelaide, 1909.

COLLINGRIDGE, GEORGE, Discovery of Australia. Sydney, 1895.

COLLINS, DAVID, Account of the English Colony in New South Wales from its
first Settlement in January 1788 to August 1801. London, 1804. Contains a
contemporary account of the discoveries of Bass and Flinders in the Tom
Thumb, the whale-boat, and the Norfolk; embodying Bass's diary.

COOK, JAMES, Voyage towards the South Pole and round the World, performed
in His Majesty's Ships the Resolution and Adventure, in the Years 1772 to
1775. 2 volumes. London, 1777.

COOK, JAMES, Voyage to the Pacific Ocean in His Majesty's Ships the
Resolution and the Discovery, in the Years 1776 to 1780. 3 volumes.
London, 1784.

COOK, Journal during his first Voyage round the World made in H.M. Bark
the Endeavour, 1768 to 1771, edited by Captain W.J.L. Wharton. London,

(There have been many reprints of Cook's Voyages, and many translations.
The best Biography of Cook is that of Kitson, 1907. Besant's brief Life
(1890) is also good.)

DAHLGREN, E.W., Voyages francaises a destination de la mer du Sud avant
Bougainville, 1695 to 1749. Paris, 1908. Contains notices of eleven
French voyages of circumnavigation and 175 South Sea voyages accomplished
by the French before Bougainville.

DALRYMPLE, ALEXANDER, Account of the Discoveries made in the South
Pacific Ocean Previous to 1764. London, 1767.

DALRYMPLE, ALEX., Collection of the Several Voyages and Discoveries in
the South Pacific Ocean. 2 volumes. London, 1770.

DAMPIER, WILLIAM, Voyages. 3 volumes. London, 1703 to 1705. An excellent
reprint of Dampier's Voyages, edited by John Masefield, was published in

DELEUZE, F. Peron. 1811.

DUCASSE, Histoire des negotiations diplomatiques relatives aux traites de
Morfontaine, de Luneville et d'Amiens. Paris, 1857.

DUMONT D'URVILLE, JULES SABASTIAN CESAR, Voyage pittoresque autour du
monde. 2 volumes. Paris, 1839.

DUMONT D'URVILLE, Voyage de la corvette l'Astrolabe pendant les annees
1826-1829, sous le commandement de. Paris, 1830.

DUPONCHAL, Voyages, volume 6 pages 167 to 219. Paris, 1841.

EVANS, Captain, A Treatise on the Navigation of Port Phillip. Melbourne.

FALLOT, L'Avenir colonial de la France. Paris, 1903.

FAVENC, ERNEST, History of Australian Exploration. Sydney, 1888.

FERGUSON, Sailing Directions for Port Phillip. Melbourne, 1854.

FINDLEY, Navigation of the South Pacific Ocean. London, 1863.

FISHER, H.A.L., Bonapartism. Oxford, 1908. Six lectures. On page 92 is a
reference to the alleged designs of Napoleon III on Australia, based on
Walpole's Life of Lord John Russell.

FLINDERS, MATTHEW, Voyage to Terra Australis in the Years 1801 to 1803,
in His Majesty's Ship the Investigator, and subsequently in the Armed
Vessel Porpoise and Cumberland Schooner, with an Account of the Shipwreck
of the Porpoise, arrival of the Cumberland at Mauritius, and Imprisonment
of the Commander during six and a half Years in that Island. 2 volumes,
quarto, with large folio atlas. London, 1814. The foundation authority
for all circumstances affecting Flinders' discoveries and his experiences
at Mauritius.

FLINDERS, M., Observations on the Coast of Van Diemen's Land. London,

FREVILLE, Hydrographie de la Mer du Sud: Histoire des Nouvelles
Decouvertes. Paris, 1774.

FREYCINET, LOUIS DE, Voyage autour du monde. Paris, 1827.

FREYCINET, LOUIS DE. See also under Peron and Freycinet.

GAFFAREL, P., La Politique coloniale en France de 1789 a 1830. Paris,

GARNIER, Voyages Abreges, volume 2 pages 176 to 180. Paris, 1837.

GIRARD, M., Francois Peron, 1857.

GRANT, JAMES, Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery. London, 1803. Grant's
eye-chart shows the main features of the extensive south coast of
Australia from Mount Gambia to Wilson's Promontory, and contains frequent
mention of Bass and Flinders. He was the first to sail through Bass
Strait from the west.

GREGORY, J.W., Geography of Australasia. London, 1907. The best book on
the subject. The author was formerly professor of geology at the
University of Melbourne, and has an unusually intimate knowledge of the
country, the result of wide and observant travel.

HAUSLEUTNER, P.W.G., German translation of Peron and Freycinet's Voyage
aux Terres Australes. Tubingen and Stuttgart, 2 volumes, 1808 to 1819.

HOEFER (Editor), Nouvelle Biographie Generale. Paris, 46 volumes, 1852 to
1866. Article on Flinders in Volume 46 by Alfred de Lacaze; also
biographies of Peron and Decaen.

HUMBOLDT, ALEXANDER VON, Personal Narrative of Travels. London, 1814.
Volume 1 pages 7 to 8, contains an account of the original objects and
scope of Baudin's expedition.

HUNTER, JOHN, Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port Jackson and
Norfolk Island, with the Discoveries which have been made in New South
Wales and in the Southern Ocean since the Publication of Phillip's
Voyage. London, 1793.

JOSE, A.W., Australasia, 1901. The best brief history of Australia.

KERR, ROBERT, General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels. 18
volumes. London, 1824. Volume 18 contains an appreciation of the work of

KIRKPATRICK, F.A. (Editor), Lectures on the Nineteenth Century. 1908.
Contains a lecture by Dr. Holland Rose bearing upon the Baudin expedition
and the Terre Napoleon maps.

LABORDE, J.B., Histoire Abregee de la Mer du Sud. 3 volumes. Paris, 1791.
A rare book, though not so important as the work of De Brosses, upon
which it was founded. It was written "pour l'education of M. le Dauphin."

LAURIE, J.S., Story of Australasia. 1896.

LABILLARDIERE, J.J.H. DE, Relation du Voyage a la recherche de la
Perouse. 2 volumes. Paris.

LABILLIERE, Early History of Victoria. London, 1878.

LEE, IDA, The Coming of the British to Australia, 1788 to 1824. London,

LEROY-BEAULIEU, Colonisation chez les peuples modernes. 2 volumes. Paris,

MAHAN, A.T., Life of Nelson. London, 1899.

MAIDEN, J.H., Sir Joseph Banks, the Father of Australia. Sydney, 1909.
Prints many of Banks's letters.

MAJOR, R.H., Early Voyages to Terra Australis, now called Australia.
London, 1859. One of the Hakluyt Society's valuable volumes.

MASSON, F., Napoleon Inconnu: Papiers Inedits. Paris, 1895.

MILBERT, M.J., Voyage pittoresque a l'Ile de France au cap de Bonne
Esperance et a l'ile de Teneriffe, 1800 a 1803, par M.J. Milbert, peintre
embarque sur la corvette Le Geographe, et directeur des gravures de la
partie historique du voyage aux Terres Australes. 2 volumes. Paris, 1812.

MILET-MUREAU, L.A., Voyage autour du monde du Comte Jean Francois Galaup
de la Perouse. 4 volumes. Paris, 1797.

Moniteur, Le, 1800 to 1814. Napoleon's official organ contains various
allusions to Baudin's expedition and to Flinders. See exact references in

MONTEMONT, Voyages, Volume 18. pages 3 to 49. Paris, 1834.

NAPOLEON I, Correspondance. 32 volumes. 1858 to 1870. A letter relating
to Baudin's expedition in Volume 6, and a reference to Port Jackson in
Volume 20.

Naval Chronicle, 1799 to 1818. Various references to Baudin's expedition;
there is a biographical sketch of Flinders in Volume 32, with portrait
and facsimile of signature; account of Flinders' imprisonment at the Isle
of France in Volume 14; letters from Flinders in Volume 26; other
facsimiles of signature in Volumes 26 and 28; memorandum by Flinders on
deflections of the compass needle in Volume 28; discovery of Bass Strait
recorded in Volume 28.

NODIER et DESPLACES (Editors), Biographie Universelle. Paris, 1814, and
later years. Contains biographies of Peron and Decaen; the biography of
Flinders, by Walckenaer, in Volume 14, is excellent.

PATERSON G., History of New South Wales. Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1811. Mention
of Flinders; and especially interesting on account of its map, showing
Bass Strait, and Tasmania as an island, but indicating the southern coast
of Australia by a line which represented a guess.

PERON and FREYCINET, Voyage de decouvertes aux Terre Australes, execute
par ordre de sa majeste l'Empereur et Roi, sur les corvettes Le Geographe
et Le Naturaliste et la goelette Le Casuarina, pendant les annees 1800,
1801, 1802, 1803, et 1804; publie par decret imperial sous le ministere
de M. de Champagny, et redige par M. F. Peron, naturalisle de
l'expedition, correspondant de l'Institut de France, de la Societe de
l'Ecole de Medecine de Paris, des Societes philomatriques et medicale de
la meme ville. Paris, 1807 to 1817.
First volume by Peron, published 1807.
Second volume by Peron and Freycinet, published 1816.
Third volume by Freycinet, published 1815, all in quarto.
Second edition of the historical narrative, edited by Freycinet,
published in three volumes, octavo, 1824.
First atlas by Freycinet, Lesueur, Petit, and others, published 1807.
Atlas re-issued, enlarged, 1812.
Revised atlas, with names on Terre Napoleon maps entirely altered,
published 1817.
Hydrographical atlas by Freycinet, published 1812.
An English translation of volume one was published, London, 1809.

PHILLIP'S Voyages. London, 1805, Volume 3 pages 1 to 71, contains a
narrative of the passage of Captain Baudin to Port Louis in Mauritius.

PINKERTON, Modern Geography. 2 volumes. London, 1807.

PINKERTON, Voyages, Volume 11 pages 739 to 952. London, 1812.

PRENTOUT, HENRI, L'Ile de France sous Decaen, 1803 to 1810. Paris, 1901.
Based upon the voluminous papers of General Decaen, preserved at Caen; a
most valuable book.

Quarterly Review, volume 4 (1810) page 42, article on first volume of
Peron's Voyage, very strongly condemnatory; volume 17 (1817) page 229,
article on the second volume, dealing largely with Freycinet's work. The
first article was based partly on Flinders' Manuscript journal, lent to
the reviewer by the Admiralty.

ROCHON, Nouveau voyage a la mer du Sud, commence sous les ordres de M.
Marion, et ackeve sous M. Duclesmeur. Paris, 1783.

ROGERS, J.D., Historical Geography of Australasia. Oxford, 1907.

ROSE, JOHN HOLLAND, Life of Napoleon 1. 2 volumes. London, 1904. Volume 1
cap 15 gives an account of Flinders' voyage and a reproduction of part of
the map of Australia published with Peron's Voyage de Decouvertes.

ROSE, JOHN HOLLAND, Revolutionary and Napoleonic Era. Cambridge, 1895.
Reference to Baudin's expedition.

ROSEBERY, EARL OF, Napoleon, the Last Phase. London 1900.

ROSS, C., Correspondence of Cornwallis. 3 Volumes. 1859.  Relative to the
Treaty of Amiens.

ROSSEL, E.P.E. DE, Voyage de D'Entrecasteaux, envoye a la recherche de La
Perouse. Paris, 1808.

RUSDEN, G.W., History of Australia. 3 volumes. London, 1883.

RUSDEN, G.W., Discovery, Survey and Settlement of Port Phillip.
Melbourne, 1871.

RUSSELL, EARL, Recollections and Suggestions. London, 1875. See Lord
Russell's allusion to French inquiries regarding British claims to

SHILLINGLAW, J.J., Historical Records of Port Phillip. Melbourne, 1879.

STEPHEN, LESLIE and LEE, SIDNEY (Editors) Dictionary of National
Biography. London, 1885 to 1901.  Biography of Flinders, by Sir J.K.
Laughton, in Volume 19 is important.

TESSIER, article on "Le General Decaen aux Indes," in Revue Historique,
volume 15. (1881).

TESSIER, articles on "Les papiers du General Decaen," in La Nouvelle
Revue, volumes 11 and 12 (1881).

THIBAUDEAU, A.C., Bonaparte and the Consulate, translated by G.K.
Fortescu. London, 1908.

THIERS, Histoire du Consulat et de L'Empire. 20 volumes. Paris, 1845.

TRAILL, H.D., Life of Sir John Franklin. London, 1896.

TUCKEY, J.H., Account of a Voyage to Establish a Colony at Port Phillip
in the Years 1802, 1803 and 1804. London, 1805.

TURNBULL, JOHN, Voyage round the World in the Years 1800 to 1804, in
which the Author visited Madeira, the Brazils, Cape of Good Hope, Botany
Bay, and Norfolk Island (pages 473 to 490). London, 1813.

TURNER, H.G., History of the Colony of Victoria. 2 volumes. London, 1904.

WALCKENAER, C.A., Le Monde maritime, ou tableau geographique et
historique de l'archipel d'Orient, de la Polynisie, et de l'Australie. 2
volumes. Paris, 1819.

WALKER, JAMES BACKHOUSE, Early Tasmania. Hobart, 1902. Gives an account
of the visit of Baudin's expedition to Tasmanian waters.

WALPOLE, SPENCER, Life of Lord John Russell. 2 volumes. London, 1891. See
the reference to the alleged designs upon Australia of Napoleon III.

WARD, A.W., PROTHERO, E.W., and LEATHES, S. (Editors), Cambridge Modern
History, volume 9, Cambridge, 1906, cap 23, by Professor Egerton; also
chapter in Volume 11, by J.D. Rogers, on the Development of Australia.

WOODS, J.E.T., History of the Discovery and Exploration of Australia. 2
volumes London, 1865.


Abercrombie, General, capture of Mauritius.

in Western Australia.

Ah Sam.

Amiens, Peace of.

Australasia, name coined by De Brosses.

causes of her peaceful progress.
colonisation of.
defence during Napoleonic wars.
Flinders' completion of discovery of.
geographical theories concerning.
name of.
first complete map of.
effect of Napoleonic wars on history of.
effect of suspicion of French designs.
Lord John Russell claims "the whole" for the British.
supposed plan of Napoleon III.
the nursling of sea power.

Banks, Sir Joseph:
friendship for Flinders.
on Baudin's explorations.
influence with Napoleon.
endeavours to secure the liberation of Flinders.
suggests the voyage of the Investigator.
the friend of Australia.

Bass, George:
his whale-boat voyage.
his drawing of Bass Strait.
his boat preserved at Sydney.

Bass Strait:
Flinders' chart of.
French charts.
Captain Hamelin in.


Baudin des Ardennes, Lt. Charles.

Baudin, Captain Nicolas:
command of Le Geographe.
scurvy on board.
wretched condition of his crew.
interview with Flinders in Encounter Bay.
second interview.
the missing of Port Phillip.
official dissatisfaction with his work.
unjustly blamed.
responsibility for the nomenclature, his discoveries.
at King Island.
equipment of Le Geographe and Le Naturaliste.
Humboldt's dislike of.
early career.
anecdote of.
unpopularity of.
feted before sailing.
sails from Havre.
reaches Australia.
negligent exploration.
at Timor.
the Virginia Incident.
insanitary state of his ships.
his obstinacy, storms encountered by his ships.
enfeebled condition of his crew.
reaches Port Jackson.
blamed Peron.
abandonment of Boullanger.
view of Port Jackson.
his frankness.
hands over his papers and journals to Governor King.
farewell letter.
at King Island.
his annoyance.
denies that French settlement was intended.
views on colonisation.
sails for Kangaroo Island.
singular temper.
harsh conduct.
second visit to Timor.
northern Australian exploration.
return to Mauritius.
death of.


Flinders' training under.
his voyage with Cook.
the Bounty mutiny.

Bougainville, Louis de:
his voyage.
a promoter of Baudin's expedition.

Bougainville, the Baron de, his voyage.

abandoned by Baudin.
in the gulfs.

Brown, Robert, botanist, on the Investigator.


Cape of Good Hope.

supposed strait from gulf to Southern Australia.
Napoleon's knowledge of.
Flinders' exploration of.

purchase of the.
See Freycinet.

Catastrophe, Cape.


Convict colonisation:
Napoleon's plans at Madagascar.
the British at Port Jackson.
Peron's view of.
Baudin's view.
Institute of France on.
Napoleon's belief in.

Cook, James:
his school of navigators.
his influence.
discovery of Port Jackson.
La Perouse and.
Napoleon and his voyages.

Cumberland H.M.S., see Flinders and Robbins.



Dance, Commodore, his exploit off Polo Aor.

De Brosses:
advocacy of French South Sea exploration.
coins the word Australasia.
history of Austral navigations.

Decaen, General:
at Pondicherry.
governor of the Isle of France.
imprisonment of Flinders.
early career and character.
reasons for retaining Flinders' papers.
Peron's report to, concerning British designs.
surrender of Isle of France.
British officers refuse to dine with.
return to France.
later career and death.




Dolphins as food.


Durham, Lord, report on Canada.

East India Company, fears as to Napoleon's designs on Australia.

Encounter Bay, meeting of Flinders and Baudin at.

Fame, ship.


Flinders, Matthew:
in command of the Investigator.
his thoroughness.
methods as an explorer.
training and early achievements.
healthiness of his crew.
their affection for him.
meeting with Baudin in Encounter Bay.
demands Baudin's passport.
the chart of Bass Strait.
second interview.
Baudin's curiosity.
examination, of Port Phillip.
his misfortunes.
his excuses for Peron.
general indignation at his treatment.
the French and his charts.
his third log-book.
refusal to dine with Decaen.
interest in La Perouse.
circumnavigation of Australia.


colonial possessions.
effect of her European policy on colonies.

Franklin, Sir John.

Freycinet, Henri de.

Freycinet, Louis de:
alleged observation of Port Phillip.
his defence of his charts.
his revised atlas.
alleged use of Flinders' charts.
command of the Casuarina.
command of the Uranie and Physicienne.
appropriation of the Dirk Haticks plate.
suppression of Napoleon's name from Peron's text.
expresses regret at the procrastination of his commander.
explores the gulfs.
a precarious situation.
return to Europe.
his charting work.

Geographe, Le, see Baudin.

Giants at Sharks Bay.


Grant, commander of the Lady Nelson.

Greville, C.F.

Grimes, surveyor of Port Phillip.


Hamelin, Captain:
commander of Le Naturaliste.
report to French Government.
his return to Europe.
protection of the Dirk Haticks plate.
separated from Le Geographe.
in Westernport.
enters Port Jackson.
leaves and returns.
sails for Europe.
captured by British frigate.
arrival at Havre.

Hobart, Lord.

Humboldt, projected voyage with Baudin's expedition.

India, the French in.

Institute of France:
promotion of Baudin's expedition.
committee of.
instructions for voyage.
report on voyage.

Investigator, see Flinders.

Isle of France, see Mauritius.


Josephine, Empress.


Kangaroo Island:
Flinders' discovery of.
contrary winds at.
naming of.
French name for.
Frenchman's Rock on.
Freycinet's charting of.
Baudin's second visit.

King Island:
Baudin's missing of.
French ships at.
mistake as to.
Acting Lieutenant Robbins at.
hospitality of sealers at.

King, P.G.:
governor of New South Wales.
assists the French ships at Port Jackson.
his suspicions.
suggests founding a settlement at Port Phillip.
peruses Baudin's papers.
hears disturbing rumours.
sends the Cumberland after Baudin.
letter to Baudin.
his objects.
colonisation of Tasmania.


Lady Nelson, H.M.S., see Murray and Grant.

La Perouse.


Linois, Admiral:
his squadron in the Indian Ocean.
sails to meet East India Company's fleet.
engagement off Polo Aor.
flight of the French.
Napoleon's comments.
his timidity.

Louisiana, sale of.

Lucas Island.

Madagascar, Napoleon's plan for colonising.



his Petites Lettres.
his influence.
his ghost.

the French in.
their precarious situation.
Flinders' imprisonment at.
blockaded and captured.


Mexican enterprise of Napoleon III.

Milius, Captain, takes Le Geographe home.

Minerva, H.M.S.

Mollineux, Emmerie, his map.

Morand, the bank-note forger.

Murray, Lieutenant:
discoverer of Port Phillip.
his qualifications.

plan for colonising Madagascar.
comments on Linois.
retort to Decres.
direction to "take Port Jackson".
his name applied to coasts discovered by Baudin.
the Flinders case.
promotion of Decaen.
motives in despatching Baudin's expedition.
the proposition of the Institute.
interest in geographical science.
his character during the Consulate.
kindness to Ah Sam.
view of the lower races.
receives Peron.

Napoleon III, supposed designs on Australia.

Naturaliste, Le, see Baudin.


New Caledonia.

New Hebrides.

Norfolk, H.M.S., explorations in.

Norfolk Island, Peron's report on.

Otto, L.G.

Paterson, Lieutenant-Colonel.

Peron, Franšois:
narrative of the meeting in Encounter Bay.
its unreliable character.
historian of Baudin's expedition.
zeal as a scientist.
report on British designs in the Pacific.
early career.
appointed to Le Geographe.
among Tasmanian aboriginals.
account of a great storm.
blames Baudin.
opinion of British navigators.
account of the Port Jackson settlement.
view of savage man.
account of the King Island incident.
view of British polity.
at Port Lincoln.
at Sharks Bay.
adventure with "giants".
distressing experiences.
harsh conduct of Baudin.
chronicles Baudin's death.
received by Napoleon.
death of.
scientific work of.
on phosphorescence.
a pupil of Cuvier.

Port Darwin.

Port Jackson:
population and means of defence during Napoleonic wars.
Admiral Linois's great chance.
Napoleon's direction to "take Port Jackson".
Baudin's entry.
French camp at Neutral Bay.
Peron's account of the settlement.
Baudin's account.

Port Lincoln.

Port Phillip:
navigation of.
Freycinet's account of.
Flinders in.
the Rip of.
French chart of.
Grimes's survey.
King suggests settlement at.

Proselite, H.M.S.

Quarterly Review:
article of 1810.
singular error of.
article of.


Robbins, Acting-Lieutenant.

Rose, Dr. J. Holland:
Life of Napoleon.
view of Napoleon's designs.

Russell, Lord John:
claim of "the whole" of Australia for the British.
supposed plans of Napoleon III.

St. Vincent, Earl.

St. Vincent's Gulf:
French name for.
Freycinet's exploration of.

San Domingo.

Scurvy on the French exploring ships.

Shakespeare, the "new map" of Twelfth Night.

Sharks Bay.

Snow Harrington, sealing brig.

Spencer, Earl.

Spencer's Gulf:
French name for.
Freycinet's exploration of.

Swan River settlement.

Sydney, see Port Jackson.

Taillefer, surgeon on Le Geographe.

Talleyrand Bay.


De Brosses' view of.
Institute of France and.
Baudin at.
supposed French designs on.
colonisation of.

Terre Napoleon:
nature of the country.
nomenclature of.
charts of.
true limits of the territory.
names upon it.


Thistle Island.

Toussaint L'Ouverture.

Trafalgar, battle of.

Vancouver, George.

Van Diemen's Land, see Tasmania.

Virginia, H.M.S.


and the French Port du Debut.
Le Naturaliste at.
projected settlement at.

West Indies.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Terre Napoleon, by Ernest Scott


This file should be named 8tnap10.txt or
Corrected EDITIONS of our eBooks get a new NUMBER, 8tnap11.txt
VERSIONS based on separate sources get new LETTER, 8tnap10a.txt

Produced by Sue Asscher and Col Choat

Project Gutenberg eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the US
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we usually do not
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

We are now trying to release all our eBooks one year in advance
of the official release dates, leaving time for better editing.
Please be encouraged to tell us about any error or corrections,
even years after the official publication date.

Please note neither this listing nor its contents are final til
midnight of the last day of the month of any such announcement.
The official release date of all Project Gutenberg eBooks is at
Midnight, Central Time, of the last day of the stated month.  A
preliminary version may often be posted for suggestion, comment
and editing by those who wish to do so.

Most people start at our Web sites at: or

These Web sites include award-winning information about Project
Gutenberg, including how to donate, how to help produce our new
eBooks, and how to subscribe to our email newsletter (free!).

Those of you who want to download any eBook before announcement
can get to them as follows, and just download by date.  This is
also a good way to get them instantly upon announcement, as the
indexes our cataloguers produce obviously take a while after an
announcement goes out in the Project Gutenberg Newsletter. or

Or /etext02, 01, 00, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 92, 91 or 90

Just search by the first five letters of the filename you want,
as it appears in our Newsletters.

Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)

We produce about two million dollars for each hour we work.  The
time it takes us, a rather conservative estimate, is fifty hours
to get any eBook selected, entered, proofread, edited, copyright
searched and analyzed, the copyright letters written, etc.   Our
projected audience is one hundred million readers.  If the value
per text is nominally estimated at one dollar then we produce $2
million dollars per hour in 2002 as we release over 100 new text
files per month:  1240 more eBooks in 2001 for a total of 4000+
We are already on our way to trying for 2000 more eBooks in 2002
If they reach just 1-2% of the world's population then the total
will reach over half a trillion eBooks given away by year's end.

The Goal of Project Gutenberg is to Give Away 1 Trillion eBooks!
This is ten thousand titles each to one hundred million readers,
which is only about 4% of the present number of computer users.

Here is the briefest record of our progress (* means estimated):

eBooks Year Month

    1  1971 July
   10  1991 January
  100  1994 January
 1000  1997 August
 1500  1998 October
 2000  1999 December
 2500  2000 December
 3000  2001 November
 4000  2001 October/November
 6000  2002 December*
 9000  2003 November*
10000  2004 January*

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation has been created
to secure a future for Project Gutenberg into the next millennium.

We need your donations more than ever!

As of February, 2002, contributions are being solicited from people
and organizations in: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut,
Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts,
Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South
Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West
Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

We have filed in all 50 states now, but these are the only ones
that have responded.

As the requirements for other states are met, additions to this list
will be made and fund raising will begin in the additional states.
Please feel free to ask to check the status of your state.

In answer to various questions we have received on this:

We are constantly working on finishing the paperwork to legally
request donations in all 50 states.  If your state is not listed and
you would like to know if we have added it since the list you have,
just ask.

While we cannot solicit donations from people in states where we are
not yet registered, we know of no prohibition against accepting
donations from donors in these states who approach us with an offer to

International donations are accepted, but we don't know ANYTHING about
how to make them tax-deductible, or even if they CAN be made
deductible, and don't have the staff to handle it even if there are

Donations by check or money order may be sent to:

Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
PMB 113
1739 University Ave.
Oxford, MS 38655-4109

Contact us if you want to arrange for a wire transfer or payment
method other than by check or money order.

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation has been approved by
the US Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization with EIN
[Employee Identification Number] 64-622154.  Donations are
tax-deductible to the maximum extent permitted by law.  As fund-raising
requirements for other states are met, additions to this list will be
made and fund-raising will begin in the additional states.

We need your donations more than ever!

You can get up to date donation information online at:


If you can't reach Project Gutenberg,
you can always email directly to:

Michael S. Hart <>

Prof. Hart will answer or forward your message.

We would prefer to send you information by email.

**The Legal Small Print**

(Three Pages)

Why is this "Small Print!" statement here? You know: lawyers.
They tell us you might sue us if there is something wrong with
your copy of this eBook, even if you got it for free from
someone other than us, and even if what's wrong is not our
fault. So, among other things, this "Small Print!" statement
disclaims most of our liability to you. It also tells you how
you may distribute copies of this eBook if you want to.

By using or reading any part of this PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm
eBook, you indicate that you understand, agree to and accept
this "Small Print!" statement. If you do not, you can receive
a refund of the money (if any) you paid for this eBook by
sending a request within 30 days of receiving it to the person
you got it from. If you received this eBook on a physical
medium (such as a disk), you must return it with your request.

This PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBook, like most PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBooks,
is a "public domain" work distributed by Professor Michael S. Hart
through the Project Gutenberg Association (the "Project").
Among other things, this means that no one owns a United States copyright
on or for this work, so the Project (and you!) can copy and
distribute it in the United States without permission and
without paying copyright royalties. Special rules, set forth
below, apply if you wish to copy and distribute this eBook
under the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark.

Please do not use the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark to market
any commercial products without permission.

To create these eBooks, the Project expends considerable
efforts to identify, transcribe and proofread public domain
works. Despite these efforts, the Project's eBooks and any
medium they may be on may contain "Defects". Among other
things, Defects may take the form of incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other
intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged
disk or other eBook medium, a computer virus, or computer
codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.

But for the "Right of Replacement or Refund" described below,
[1] Michael Hart and the Foundation (and any other party you may
receive this eBook from as a PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBook) disclaims
all liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including

If you discover a Defect in this eBook within 90 days of
receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any)
you paid for it by sending an explanatory note within that
time to the person you received it from. If you received it
on a physical medium, you must return it with your note, and
such person may choose to alternatively give you a replacement
copy. If you received it electronically, such person may
choose to alternatively give you a second opportunity to
receive it electronically.


Some states do not allow disclaimers of implied warranties or
the exclusion or limitation of consequential damages, so the
above disclaimers and exclusions may not apply to you, and you
may have other legal rights.

You will indemnify and hold Michael Hart, the Foundation,
and its trustees and agents, and any volunteers associated
with the production and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm
texts harmless, from all liability, cost and expense, including
legal fees, that arise directly or indirectly from any of the
following that you do or cause:  [1] distribution of this eBook,
[2] alteration, modification, or addition to the eBook,
or [3] any Defect.

You may distribute copies of this eBook electronically, or by
disk, book or any other medium if you either delete this
"Small Print!" and all other references to Project Gutenberg,

[1]  Only give exact copies of it.  Among other things, this
     requires that you do not remove, alter or modify the
     eBook or this "small print!" statement.  You may however,
     if you wish, distribute this eBook in machine readable
     binary, compressed, mark-up, or proprietary form,
     including any form resulting from conversion by word
     processing or hypertext software, but only so long as

     [*]  The eBook, when displayed, is clearly readable, and
          does *not* contain characters other than those
          intended by the author of the work, although tilde
          (~), asterisk (*) and underline (_) characters may
          be used to convey punctuation intended by the
          author, and additional characters may be used to
          indicate hypertext links; OR

     [*]  The eBook may be readily converted by the reader at
          no expense into plain ASCII, EBCDIC or equivalent
          form by the program that displays the eBook (as is
          the case, for instance, with most word processors);

     [*]  You provide, or agree to also provide on request at
          no additional cost, fee or expense, a copy of the
          eBook in its original plain ASCII form (or in EBCDIC
          or other equivalent proprietary form).

[2]  Honor the eBook refund and replacement provisions of this
     "Small Print!" statement.

[3]  Pay a trademark license fee to the Foundation of 20% of the
     gross profits you derive calculated using the method you
     already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  If you
     don't derive profits, no royalty is due.  Royalties are
     payable to "Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation"
     the 60 days following each date you prepare (or were
     legally required to prepare) your annual (or equivalent
     periodic) tax return.  Please contact us beforehand to
     let us know your plans and to work out the details.

Project Gutenberg is dedicated to increasing the number of
public domain and licensed works that can be freely distributed
in machine readable form.

The Project gratefully accepts contributions of money, time,
public domain materials, or royalty free copyright licenses.
Money should be paid to the:
"Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

If you are interested in contributing scanning equipment or
software or other items, please contact Michael Hart at:

[Portions of this eBook's header and trailer may be reprinted only
when distributed free of all fees.  Copyright (C) 2001, 2002 by
Michael S. Hart.  Project Gutenberg is a TradeMark and may not be
used in any sales of Project Gutenberg eBooks or other materials be
they hardware or software or any other related product without
express permission.]